Homeless Men Are Reintegrating Through Urban Beekeeping
By Heather Callaghan, Editor
Rumor has it that men hard are their luck in Montreal are finding purpose through mastery of urban, homeless beekeeping and are reintegrating back into society with their newfound skills.
Accueil Bonneau describes itself as a shelter and homeless care center that has “discovered the rewarding effects of teaching their residents about urban beekeeping” in the Canadian city.
Their program has maintained a 4-year partnership with a beekeeping company called Alvéole. During that time, dozens of homeless Canadians have been able to reintegrate back into society, the group says, “thanks to the social and professional skills that they learned through the program.”
According to CBC, the homeless beekeeping masters oversee 60 city-hives that span across seven locations within Montreal. They harvest the honey and sell at participating Metro supermarkets.
The program claims that by mastering the patience of carefully handling the bees, the homeless apprentices automatically learn calm and gentleness which they say creates “therapeutic” feelings of ease.
Program participant Roger Décarie is quoted by the Accueil Bonneau as saying:
Survival of bees is important to me. Often mistaken for wasps that are more aggressive, they are maltreated and killed. Without the bees, there would be no flowers, no trees, nature would not be the same. We need to take care of them, just like they take care of us, and I am proud to contribute to that.
Aubin Boudreau, executive director Accueil Bonneau, then added in a burst:
Apprenticeships and reintegration programs are fine as long as homeless men are not being exploited for their labor. We don’t want to see an apprenticeship-economy or “work-to-eat-another-day” scenarios crop up just because the homelessness rates are exploding here in the U.S. The Montreal program says it offers “small payments” for their participants’ work, but much of their labor’s money goes to funding the program. As long as they truly can reintegrate and have what they need to break from the shelter someday, then this is great news.
GNN reports that the homeless men are finding peace through urban beekeeping – we can only hope that they truly are. Of course, it’s easy to see why beekeeping is a healing and purposeful skill for anyone.
See the program in action:
Have you ever been involved in this program or others like it? Share your experience in the comments below!