Beekeeping As A Therapeutic Endeavor
There are a great many people in the U.S. now involved in the hobby of beekeeping. There are some who are involved in beekeeping in some sort of commercial or small business venture. There is a growing number of beekeeping education programs out there as well.
However, a very small focus area involving beekeeping is as a therapeutic activity. There just aren’t that many people who are interested in or have the experience to offer beekeeping experiences for others iwith a primarily therapeutic purpose.
As a profesional apiarist, a professional instructor, and a Panendeist minister, I find myself in a unique situation to be able to offer beekeeping as a way for people to immerse themself in a highly experiential way to bring focus, calm, and a sense of peace to their life in a safe way that involves beekeeping.
I have mentored and provided training to a great many people as they become involved in beekeeping or look for opportunities to become more advanced in their beekeeping skills. A number of these people have had to deal with stress in their lives to a sometimes almost incapacitating degree. From veterans dealing with PTSD to people recovering from life changing health changes or disabilities, they not only look to beekeeping as a new opportunity to engage successfully with something in their world, but find it as a path to peace and serenity in their life.
Beekeeping is a highly sensory and is extremely experiential in it’s practice. There’s only so much you can “know” of beekeeping from reading, watching or being in a classroom. Most of beekeeping is experiencing it. Knowing what particular scents and odors are that directly realate to troubleshooting a hive’s condition or a colony’s health. Knowing the feel and coloration of the comb in a hive, the cells on a frame. This is hard to know and understand without experiencing it for yourself.
The therpeutic beekeeping experience is very much an approach that provides the participant with a safe environment yet offers a multitude of facots which make it beneficial. By presenting a person with scents, visual, and touch sensory input and combining those with a directed, step-by-step, process that keeps the mind focused on an operational track, most participants find the beekeeping experience to a great relief and stress reducing tool that has long-lasting effects.
I am now beginning a project in collaboration with Scatter Joy Acres, an animal rescue and animal therapy project that conditions a wide variety of animals to be a source of comfort and stress reduction for people. The bee aspect will begin this May, 2019.
The four primary activities for the bee project there will be a home for relocated (instead of exterminated) honey bees, an apprenticeship for beekeepers interested in learning the complete apiarist experience, a veterans beekeeping group and a small group beekeeping experience that will give visitors an oportunity to see what really goes on in beekeeping, how they can help bees and to see how bees aren’t the scary things they often think they are.
The veterans beekeeping group is the focal aspect of the therapeutic effort. I am accepting veterans to register for the group at no cost to them. As they participate on a regular basis, they will use a methodology and guided experience to maximize the most beneficial aspects of beekeeping.
The methodology is one that I’ve been developing for a number of years as Ive worked with individuals I’ve trained or mentored that experience stress issues. It incorporates a certain style of movements and mental concentrations that help keep an individual focused and in-the-moment.
As this project goes forward, it’s possible to see more groups added to include people dealing with stress from a variety of backgrounds. Beekeeping is a fascinating and productive endeavor that helps both the bees and the people involved in multiple ways.