What we do
The Bee Free Project offers free tailored beekeeping courses to ex servicemen that have the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events experienced by the individual which impacts on every facet of life.
The project was started by Richard Jones having found that beekeeping helped him with coping mechanisms to deal with his own PTSD.
The project is now in a position to expand beyond referrals through friends and family, and is now open to any ex service personnel with symptoms of PTSD.
Its is aimed that the coping methods used when beekeeping can be translated into every day life, helping those with the variety of problems encountered with PTSD. In 2016, we aim to teach a minimum of 15 ex service personnel and allow them to carry on the hobby at home by providing them with all the equipment necessary to carry on. This will also benefit the environment as by giving them bees of their own and they will introduce around 2.5m bees to their local area.
Co-located with Cilgwenyn Bee Farm on the outskirts of Llanelli, bee farmer Rhodri Owen has teamed up with Richard to give individuals the opportunity to learn beekeeping and understand how beekeeping can help with the problems associated with PTSD.
How does Beekeeping help PTSD?
Exactly how beekeeping can help coping with PTSD is still unknown at this point. The personal experience of Richard and other participants in 2014 and 2015 show that methods used when beekeeping helps with PTSD. For this reason we emphasise that a course with us should not be used in lieu of seeking professional medical advice but it can be used alongside it.
The course is suitable for those waiting for professional medical help, those who have tried professional help but it has failed, or those wanting to chose an alternative solution away from medical military based institutions when on prescribed medication.
From Richard and others having taken part it is considered that beekeeping helps to alleviate some of the problems of PTSD in various ways.
This includes being in a friendly understanding environment, surrounded by the countryside bringing peace and serenity while learning a new skill in a calm environment without stress at pace tailored for the individual. The sessions over a whole beekeeping season gives an opportunity to take participants away from the rat race of life while at the same time taking part in some physical exercise that is not strenuous.
We have found that going through a beehive with live bees helps to concentrate the mind and remain focused, helping to improve memory and initiating tasks in a logical way. Handling the bees also helps with any ticks that participants may have when experiencing flashbacks or any other undesired memories helping to manage memories better and reducing the stress after the onset of flashbacks. Manipulating the bees also helps with anger as handling the bees require careful movements or actions could result in some bee stings!
We found that beekeeping helps to work through anxiety issues, mechanisms which can be translated into everyday life, such as panic attacks without prompting but is self taught.
Keeping bees also gives a sense of achievement and after a season of hard work participants are rewarded with honey, natures natural sugar. This can be given to friends and family where in the past relations could have been strained, helping people to get back to their former life.
As well as helping the environment beekeeping could also bring in additional income, possibly paving a way to become self supporting with a job in an environment that suits the participants, becoming part of society again rather than feeling to be outside at the edges.
If you would like to make the difference to someone’s life, please consider making a donation. We do not charge the participants for the year long beekeeping lessons, nor do we get paid for it. For a full breakdown of exactly where any money raised will be spent, please visit this page.
The Bee Free Project in the News
The Bee Free Project has been on the Jason Mohammad Show on Radio Wales and also on Radio Cymru, we have also appeared in Bee Craft, UK's leading beekeeping magazine, and in several newspapers, two of which you can read for yourselves by clicking on the images below.