Urban Beekeeping Helping the Homeless Get Back on Their Feet

(ANTIMEDIA) An organization in Montreal has found success with a unique approach toward helping homeless men reintegrate into society. Homeless care center Accueil Bonneau is helping the homeless get back on their feet with an urban beekeeping program aimed at developing social and professional skills.

In the Le Miel de Bonneau program, beekeeping company Alvéole trains beekeeping apprentices to work on maintaining beehives, producing and harvesting honey, and even participating in sales and promotional activities. Proceeds from the sales finance and help run daily operations.

The program, which began four years ago, now has 60 beehives in seven locations across the city. “When they get to be hands on, they see that it’s all about being confident and being at peace with the bees,” Geneviève Kieffer Després, director of communications and special projects told CBC“The most important thing is that it’s not just a job. It’s learning to do something you love and getting rewarded for it. That is something we want to teach,” she said.

Apprentice John Levasseur says beekeeping is “like therapy” to him. “In a former life I was a DJ. I enjoyed the work, but often I had to get smashed to enjoy it,” he explained.

Kieffer Després gave an example of a man who was very shy when he started the program but, as he worked on the business end of operations, started to find confidence in the work. “We started selling honey at the beginning of October, and by November, he was the guy going up to people telling them, ‘come see the stand, come try the honey.’ Amazing change, I could witness those kinds of changes every day.”

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