People who work rehabilitating and training criminals have all kinds of great ideas about how to make people into productive members of society post-incarceration — everything from college to license plate repair to chain gangs. And now, there’s a new one: bees and beekeeping. Through an organization called the Osbourne Association, a nonprofit working on vocational and educational alternatives to longer prison times, a group of New York City prisoners got a lesson in beekeeping last week.

Beekeeper Todd Patton introduces the prisoners to some basic facts about bees: They fly several miles in a single day, it takes the nectar from 2,000 flowers to make a single pound of honey, queen bees lay up to 2,000 eggs a day. There were also can’t-miss cool-guy comedy quips like “Instead of hanging out on street corners like some people we know, [bees] hang out about 600 feet up in the air.” Naturally the prisoners also had questions, like, if they were in a fight, would one of the members of their bee posse sting the person they were fighting? Patton said he thought bees were perhaps not dependable bodyguards. But they are not a bad way to get out of a day of doing pull-ups and watching Ricki Lake.

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