By Fiona Edwards, SPP Graduate Research Assistant
In June, I had the opportunity to meet Officer Glenn Epling, the new beekeeping project lead at Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC). Officer Epling enthusiastically described tending beehives and his experiences as a third generation beekeeper. He gave an impromptu demonstration of the hives in action to former SPP graduate research assistant Andrea Martin, SPP-CCCC Liaison Anthony Pickard, and me. We were fortunate enough to gear up in the beekeeping suits and look into the hive boxes to see the bees in action (SPP posted photos of this excursion here). I had never been that close to a hive beefore, and I couldn’t beelieve how loud they were!
Here is my brief interview with Officer Epling :
How did you get involved in beekeeping?
I became interested in beekeeping through my Grandfather and my Father. My grandfather started beekeeping about 30 years ago and then my father picked it up when he passed away. After my father passed away I was left with all of this equipment and decided to pick it up. It’s a family tradition.
How does beekeeping contribute to a sustainable environment?
Beekeeping provides pollination for flowers and crops, the pollen that is collected can be used for allergies and other medical needs. The honey that is taken from the bees provides us with many vitamins and nutrients to help heal our bodies. In turn we can make things out of the wax: lip gloss, hand lotions, and candles.
Can you explain your beekeeping process at Cedar Creek?
The beekeeping process starts with a new hive that can be built into a sustainable hive that can take care of itself. We start with one box, after they fill it we move to two boxes, at which point it becomes a “Sustainable Colony.”
You just took over the beekeeping program after Vicki Briggs retired; what is your vision for the future of the beekeeping program?
We have a long term vision here at Cedar Creek of starting and getting our hives up to a sustainable level to where they will be able to maintain their own hives and continue the growth of the younger hives to meet the needs of honey production. We also want to maintain the bee activity throughout the prison grounds for the future of our own crops, trees, and flowers.
Do you have any goals for your interaction with SPP?
To share the knowledge that I have and gain knowledge that they may have for me and to work with them to build a sustainable bee program here in the prison systems.
Any other comments you’d like to share?
I’m looking forward to working with Evergreen and the people there to make this program a success. I think it’s important to our environment that this program is successful.