Reading prisoners get a buzz out of beekeepingBy Linda Fort
July 10, 2012
Beekeeping has got them buzzing at Reading prison now they have their own hive.
A projects to raise bees behind bars has begun at HMP Reading and Young Offenders’ Institution after a visit by a beekeeper.
Lin Jenkins went to the jail to talk about her bees and it was such a success she has now provided a hive to keep at the prison.
Head of education at the YOI, Michael Keenan explained: “Work within prison education is directed at reducing re-offending and this is deemed an excellent project as bees are important to the environment.
“Many things can be learned for bees and beekeeping and it can be an educational experience.”
Mrs Jenkins, from Tilehurst, said: “I was approached by a friend who I used to work with, and now works in Reading prison, and was asked whether I would give a talk on beekeeping, and my general lifestyle which resembles the Good Life, to a group of inmates.
“I was fairly anxious, not because of the surrounding, but whether the boys would be interested. I need not have worried.
“From the moment I entered the prison I felt quite excited. The boys were wonderful. A couple started off a bit quiet, but soon joined in.”
She went on: “I took some frames from a hive, showing how they start off when you put them in, then the various stages when the bees start to draw out the comb, ready to take the eggs, larvae, honey, pollen etc.
“We then had a tasting session. First of all just ordinary honey, from a jar, on bread.
“We then moved on to tasting some honey direct from the comb.
“The greatest part of the day was seeing one of the boys, who had never tasted honey before, tentatively trying the first honey, then coming back for more, then trying the comb and even coming back for more of that. We have converted him.”
Mrs Jenkins, a student receptionist at a secondary school, said: “I am used to working with 11 to 18-year-olds, many of them from quite troubled backgrounds, so the inmates at the prison, aged 18 to 21 almost seem like the next step.”
Mrs Jenkins donated the equipment to the project, Bees Behind the Fenceline, and she predicts the challenge will be to get the swarm to the prison.
She added: “I am in the process of getting security clearance, so that I can go in regularly and work with the inmates and the bees.”