Honey bees provide therapeutic opportunity for veterans

Honey bees provide therapeutic opportunity for veterans

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Honey Bee Breed, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory and the Louisiana Armed Forces Foundation (LaAFF) have partnered in up in order to offer a unique opportunity to veterans in Baton Rouge.

The lab, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), suggest that beekeeping can be beneficial to veterans of the military and are hosting a workshop on June 25 to get the word out.

ARS researcher, Michael Simone-Finstrom, says, "We want to give back to the veteran community. We do that by helping veterans, both new and experienced at beekeeping, learn about honey bee biology, including their pests and pathogens. Then we provide hands-on experience with sustainable honey bees our lab has developed so they can raise healthy bees from the start."

LaAFF co-founder, Jaye Townsend, says that while beekeeping may sound like an odd way for veterans to relieve stress, it seems to really interest them. "People regularly say that working with honey bees is therapeutic and has potential as a business opportunity," he says.

One veteran, C.J. Oliver, now produces approximately 60 gallons of honey annually in Arnaudville, Louisiana. He says, "We (my family) see this workshop as a good learning experience as we've gone from hobby to secondary income to hopefully a full-time business one day."

The Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Lab develops elite honey bee strains, including bees from Russia, where factors such as lengthy winters allow only the strongest bees to survive. The lab is also focused on breeding bees for better resistance to pests and disease.

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