In full circle moment, former inmate-turned beekeeper starts program to teach beekeeping at Cook County Dept. of Corrections

alt text By Maia McDonald, Environmental Health and Wellness Reporter, The Real Chi

On May 3rd, 2019,  former inmate and co-founder of the apiary services company Westside Bee Boyz Thad Smith returned to the Cook County Department of Corrections where he was incarcerated to kickoff a new beekeeping program. Smith will be teaching inmates in the Sheriff’s Garden Program, who maintain the jail’s garden daily, beekeeping skills and how to manage thousands of bees on their own. Smith will be teaching the inmates beekeeping as well as working with them to build protective homes for the hives.

After his February 2013 release from jail, Smith moved into interim housing in the Chicago neighborhood Pilsen at the San Jose Obrero Mission. He also got involved with the North Lawndale Employment Network and got involved working for Sweet Beginnings, a beekeeping company that would one day inspire him to start his own business as a way to give back to his community. It’s Smith’s real-life experiences and knowledge of the criminal justice system that, according to him makes this a full-circle moment in his life. He also hopes that this new program can inspire the inmates to pursue beekeeping as a career upon their release. For Smith, beekeeping is a career that should be viable to people of color as well.