Inmates learn beekeeping – It may take the sting out of re-entry
August 15, 2011
The result is the first and only beekeeping program in the Florida prison system. Inmates at RMC are learning how to maintain a colony of honey bees and collect honey.
“It’s giving an inmate that would not normally have the opportunity of acquiring a job in these hard times, a tool to become involved in agriculture,” said David Westervelt, apiary protection specialist supervisor here at DPI. “The way beekeeping is now, we need good workers.”
These inmates are gaining valuable experience in the beekeeping industry which is of significant economic importance in Florida. Beekeepers generate an estimated $20 million every year in pollination services alone.
Florida has approximately 2,100 registered beekeepers and over 300,000 managed honeybee colonies. Completion of the program grants the inmates opportunity to join this network of honey harvesters. An immediate job interview with commercial beekeeper Dave Mendes will be granted to each program participant after being released from prison.
Westervelt also said that those inmates whose release date is further down the road, will be able to train others who enter the program – furthering education and opportunity.
The Department of Corrections is hoping this program will help inmates beat the odds. Currently, one out of every three inmates released from the Florida prison system returns to prison within three years. The goal of this program is the development of viable job skills that will lead inmates to productive jobs and law-abiding lives upon release.
On Tuesday, August 16, there will be a media open house to visit the program and speak to the inmates who are involved. The open house will begin at 1 p.m. at the Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler.
And what better time to host such an event than just days before National Honey Bee Day? August 20th has been set aside as a tribute to these critters. Celebrate the honey bee by enjoying their bountiful harvest – honey recipes. And visit this site for more information on National Honey Bee Day.
DPI Director Richard Gaskalla and our Apiary Chief Jerry Hayes, will join inmates involved in the beekeeping program and RMC Warden Brian Riedl at the event.
For additional information contact the Department of Corrections, Office of Public Affairs (850) 488-0420 or Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 888-397-1517.