Bee Therapy: Local Veteran Using Beekeeping To Help Others

WDAZ8 ABC    By Kelsie McMahon    May 19, 2016

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THIEF RIVER FALLS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - To cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, one Minnesota veteran has found therapy in bees.

Since the 90s, Bill Reynolds has been busy as a bee.

Bill Reynolds, beekeeper: “I was planting some apple trees and taking note that there wasn't many pollinators in the area and this was on the East Side of Minnesota.”

Now tucked away in nature outside of Thief River Falls he takes care of six active hives, growing up to 20 by midsummer, the bees pollinating a variety of fruits and flowers.

Reynolds: “So when I put a label on my honey, it's wildflower honey.”

Reynolds found tending to the bees has a therapeutic effect. As a U.S. Air Force veteran, he says the bees help with his PTSD.

Reynolds: “It gives me peace of mind. It gives me a place I can focus, instead of all the voices, not that I have a bunch of them, but there's plenty of them. I can focus on what I'm doing and the rest of the world kind of melts away whatever it is during that period of time.”

While Reynolds uses beekeeping to help with his PTSD, he is now mentoring others online.

Crystal Longseth, Bemidii: “He met me the day I picked up my bees and he's like my backup, you know, if I have a question or there's any problems or I don't know what's going on. He's the one that actually made me realize that I need to learn about the local plants and what's flowering at what time and, you know, just the other day he told me how to light my smoker."

Now taking his love of bees and training others in the military, he's reaching out to help fellow veterans.

Reynolds: “I can take what I like to do, bees and training, put them together and maybe help some vets in the same situation or worse situation than I am.”

Starting a new project called "Bees for Vets" - he's created a GoFundMe page to upgrade equipment and eliminate cost for vets.

With a goal of $20,000, he has raised more than $400 so far.

A hobby-turned-therapy, Reynolds is using bees to connects with vets and beekeepers around the world.

Reynolds: “If the bees brought me peace, maybe I can help another vet with the bees.