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.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

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.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.