Chuck Hudgins and his beekeeping at the Washington State Penitentiary

Below is a letter from Chris McGill of the Washington State Penitentiary Sustainable Practices Lab. He is writing to describe the work that Oregon Master Beekeeper Journey student, instructor, and mentor Chuck Hudgins has been doing at their facility. Chuck travels from Milton Freewater to Hermiston to assist with Jan Lohman’s Eastern Oregon Apprentice class, assisting with both teaching and mentoring. Thanks for all the great work you do, Chuck!

June 23, 2023
Washington State Penitentiary
Sustainable Practices Lab

A review of the 2022-2023 beekeeping class here at SPL reveals great signs of progress. When volunteer beekeeping instructor, Chuck Hudgins, initiated the program in March 2022, he took ten incarcerated individuals and began to instruct them in the art and science of beekeeping. SPL supplied a number of Langstroth style hives in the SPL greenzone area, and Chuck brought in the necessary bees to populate the hives. He began classroom instruction and hands-on instruction with the incarcerated students, investing approximately 4 hours per week from April 2022, through the honey harvest period in October 2022. He began classes again in spring of 2023.

Students learned from a Washington Beekeepers Association book in addition to hand-outs supplied by Chuck, and written homework was assigned to the students and collected by staff at SPL.

Chuck taught the biology, habits and history of honeybees to students before they even began to interact with bees, and by the time they were able to actually work with the bees, they had built up a reasonable bank of knowledge and a load of enthusiasm. Then Chuck’s hands-on instruction familiarized all of the students with the details and inner workings of healthy beehives, week after week through the entire season.

By the end of the inaugural year of the SPL beekeeping program, Chuck had invested over 110 hours of instruction for the students, and the resulting enthusiasm from every one of the students has continued on.

We certainly expect 2023 to continue on in the same way, and the students who stayed on at SPL since last year are looking to build upon the foundation Chuck provided in year one.

In all, we see the beekeeping program as a tremendous success, and we can only express our gratitude to Chuck Hudgins for his commitment to both the welfare of honeybees in the Northwest, and the education of incarcerated individuals who wish to improve themselves and connect to the environment in a healthy and beneficial way.

Chris McGill CC3
Washington State Penitentiary
Sustainable Practices Lab