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How Beekeeping Is Helping Homeless Men Get Back on Their Feet

Accueil Bonneau

When you think of beekeeping, the first thing that comes to mind might not be helping homeless men, but Accueil Bonneau in Montreal is using the unique activity to do just that.

Accueil Bonneau is a Montreal-based organization that offers services for homeless men. With the support of beekeeping company Alvéole, they created Le Miel de Bonneau, an innovative program that encourages homeless men to develop professional skills and improve their social skills through urban beekeeping. The program aims to help these men reintegrate into society.

"When they get to be hands on, they see that it's all about being confident and being at peace with the bees," Geneviève Kieffer Després, director of communications and special projects, told CBC.

The program, which caters to homeless men aged 25 years and older, was created in 2014 and now has 60 hives in seven locations across Montreal. There are different jobs available for the workers throughout the year. At the end of the summer, the honey is collected and sold, with its proceeds going to the shelter.

Working with the bees teaches the program’s apprentices to be more calm and gentle, and it allows them to be more comfortable with socializing.

"We started selling honey at the beginning of October, and by November, he was the guy going up to people telling them, 'come see the stand, come try the honey.' Amazing change, I could witness those kinds of changes everyday," said Kieffer Després of one participant that started out very shy with the public.

Not only does this program work with homeless men from a social perspective, but it also keeps Montreal’s gardens happy as the roaming bees pollinate areas throughout the city.