AS A LEADER in her religious community, Sister Lyn Szymkiewicz, C.S.J. spends most of her time tending to the needs of her sisters. But comeweekends and evenings, she is likely to be tending to her other passion: thebees living in 13 hives on the property of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden,Pennsylvania.
More than a pastime, Szymkiewicz says her beekeeping has a spiritualconnection, an educational component, and even helps provide jobs for peoplewith employment challenges.
Beekeeping fits snugly into her congregation’s emphasis on green living.
“We’re called as gospel women to care for creation,” she says, and caring forhoneybees is particularly important right now because their population hasplummeted in the past decade. “Local beekeepers are helping keep bees alive,tending to creation—and our own bodies,” which depend on pollinated food,she notes.
Szymkiewicz finds that bees provide an ideal way to teach people aboutpollination and environmental literacy. Certified in beekeeping since 2005, shealso has taught classes and held every office in the Beaver Valley BeekeepingAssociation.
While money making is not the point, she says, her community hasexperienced brisk online sales of the roughly 1,300 pounds of honey the hives produce each year, along with beeswaxskin creams and lip balms. That’s where the job connection comes in: The sisters have partnered to have their productslabeled through a county agency that provides jobs for people with intellectual disabilities or other challenges.
ST. JOSEPH SISTER KEEPS A HONEY OF A HOBBY
SISTER LYN SZYMKIEWICZ, C.S.J. tends tohoneybees, a practice she says is spiritual,Earth-friendly, and educational.
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