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Beekeeping helps Psychiatric patients

a tray from a beehive
a tray from a beehive Image credit:

Here’s a story with a sting in its tail: a group of beekeepers are spending time smoking hives on a Greek island to help control their high levels of mental illness.

Patients at a local psychiatric hospital on Leros island are taking part in a project, being run over a two-decade initiative which combines therapy and professional fulfilment.

Project manager and occupational therapist Andreas Georgiou said the cooperative "aims to socially and professionally integrate persons with psychosocial problems.

He added: "Through the programme they acquire self-respect and self-esteem." 

The patients will prepare nutritional diets for bees consisting of lavender, oregano and an assortment of aromatic herbs.

Georgiou called the project “a bee’s paradise.”

Once collected the honey is packaged and labelled in Lepida, situated to the south of the port, where the herbs are dried in dedicated rooms located inside the psychiatric hospital before being sold by the estate across the island.

Artemis, a patient at the hospital, said:  "I love what I do here, it's a real relief for the soul.

We try to be as traditional and pure here as possible."

The Leros cooperative pays 13 workers, all supervised by highly trained beekeepers as well as nurses and occupational therapists from the psychiatric hospital.

A number of patients are able to live on the island giving them supervised access into society, those with greater needs are confined to the asylum.

The average beehive produces about 11kg of honey during a season.