Mission Beelieve: the beekeeping programme to help veterans

Navy veteran Eryck Stamper is still struggling, suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression and some physical ailments. I’m always trying to find my place, to figure out where I belong” he says. This research led him to a farm in Carroll County, Maryland, where he has found solace in an unusual place.

This farm was the birthplace of the Mission Beelieve program, a foundation with workshops and hands-on seminars to help veterans and first responders feel at peace, learning a new trade by embracing the therapeutic and professional aspects of beekeeping. The team leading Mission Beelieve consists of Monica Schmitt and son Tristan Bannon who state: “Honeybees have really changed my life. And they are changing others. I see it every day. If you’re distracted, if you’re focused on other issues in your life, the bees know it and suddenly the sound changes. The bees immediately remind you that your attention needs to be here with us. That’s what a lot of people need, sometimes you just need to slow down and listen to what’s around you.”

The program offers a virtual course for beginners, with lectures given by authoritative entomologists and beekeepers. There is also a hands-on experience consisting of inspecting hives in the teaching apiary. Since they are a “No-Profit” organization, it is possible to support them through donations or by purchasing their award-winning honey, the proceeds of which will benefit the organization. Right now Mission Beelieve is raising funds to build a therapeutic bee house. It will have special hives that will not have to be lifted, in order to accommodate those who cannot stand or are limbless.

 “We all need a purpose. These kids, men and women, also need their purpose. And that’s what the program does. It helps them reuse their negative energy into something positive through beekeeping.”

“For me, this is really a family. It is not a non-profit organization. They have taken me in and made me part of who I am” Stamper says.

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