'Making honey with porridge': The prisoners beekeeping behind bars

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer

A beekeeping scheme which helps prisoners with their rehabilitation at HMP Warren Hill in Suffolk is now so popular there is a waiting list to join it.

Prison Officers say it gives inmates an opportunity to take responsibility and to learn new skills as part of their rehabilitation.

A select few inmates are chosen for the scheme, earning the right to look after the bees and they have to reach a certain stage in their rehabilitation before they can join.

Matt is serving a life sentence at HMP Warren Hill. Every day he comes to the beehives to tend them as part of his rehabilitation.

It gives me responsibility and shows that I am reliable and it's looking after another living thing. I get a lot out of it, it's given me skills which I would never have learned on the outside. It's opened up my horizons and given me good things to do when I leave prison.

Inmate, HMP Warren Hill

The prison has installed five hives for inmates to work with and has plans to sell the honey to the public.

The beekeeping scheme has been running for five years. The hives are made on site and used in other prisons across the country.

It's about rehabilitation, about trying to prepare these guys to go back into civvy street and I think it's a good tool to help that. It's about working in a team and share as a group of people and it is good for mental health.

Mark Jones, Prison Officer

The majority of inmates on the scheme are nearing the end of their sentences with the idea behind the project focusing on 'progression'. It's a key word at Warren Hill, giving prisoners the chance to show the authorities how they are progressing and how they have reduced the risk they pose to the public.

The way forward is to get the residents to demonstrate that they can take what they're learned through their sentence and coming to Warren Hill is that final part of their sentence where they can put all those together in this type of community and they can demonstrate to us that they are a less of a risk to the public when they are released.

Dave Nicholson, Governor, HMP Warren Hill
One inmate 'Matt' told ITV News Anglia says beekeeping helps his mental wellbeing. Credit: ITV News Anglia

HMP Warren Hill is a category C prison, holding some of the most serious offenders in the country.


The honey that comes from the bees is eaten on site and sometimes sold in the prison shop.

It's now well established as part of daily life inside the prison and also helps to prepare for life outside of prison.