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This surprising coping mechanism for PTSD is all the buzz

Ruddy Cano Avatar
(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has plagued troops since the first stone was thrown in anger. Generation after generation have attempted to treat it differently. Some therapeutic, albeit strange, treatments have shown some progress in reducing the invisible scars of the mind.

That’s where beekeeping comes in.

Besides making honey, bees are majorly known as pollinators of different fruits and vegetables. As insignificant as they may seem, the world would be a different place without these tiny, hence extremely crucial creatures. To veterans, bees are more than pollinators and honey makers. Several researchers have proved how practical beekeeping has been to veterans with PTSD.

Beekeeping is a type of therapy that may aid in the treatment of mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Because many soldiers returning from active duty have difficulties coping with the war experience and establishing a functional life afterwards, they are usually encouraged to participate in activities that will keep their minds off the past. Most military veterans may also experience homelessness, hopelessness and substance abuse.

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Nistas. (DVIDS)

Beekeeping therapy for returning soldiers

Although there is little scientific evidence supporting the theory behind beekeeping therapy, some veterans have engaged in the activity for many years and claim it is the only thing that has worked for them. Veterans enrolled in programs such as one in Manchester say it makes them concentrate, loosen up, and get more constructive. The initiatives are part of a tiny but growing endeavor by Veterans Affairs and veteran organizations to encourage soldiers to pursue careers in farming and other agricultural fields.

Wendi Zimmerman, one of the veterans enrolled in a beekeeping program, reported that the activity helped her cope with the anxiety she always feels whenever outside her home. This is despite the fact that she was extremely afraid of bees before because of their sting. In her opinion, adapting to the new surroundings and getting used to normality was quite tough, but she was relieved when she discovered beekeeping could calm her down. Beekeeping allows her to unwind and forget about the outside world. It is a great way for her to demonstrate that shutting down your mind can enable you to perform other tasks rather than spending the whole time thinking about things that happened during your active duty days.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Albuquerque District courtesy photo.

Although most of the programs are aimed at teaching soldiers how to be agricultural workers and commercial beekeepers, others aim to meet the problems that those coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq face due to brain injuries, PTSD, and other mental problems. The programs make it clear that beekeeping is only one of the numerous activities that troubled veterans could benefit from if they enroll in the program.

According to Alicia Semiatin, the head of the Manchester mental program, most veterans who enroll find it easy to integrate beekeeping into their schedule. The outcomes of the program sometimes come out within days of participation. She claims that beekeeping is not only a good form of therapy for troubled individuals but also a good way of learning something new that has tremendous benefits.

What makes beekeeping even better is that anyone, not only troubled veterans, can engage in the activity. Therefore, it is recommended for anyone with anxiety, PTSD and any other mental health struggles. Beekeeping allows such people to interact with the natural environment in a new way, something that helps them calm down.