2016 Hives For Heroes Recipient
SGT Nicholas Degiglio
SGT Nicholas Degiglio
Nick has been diagnosed with PTSD and struggles with depression and anxiety. He has several other medical conditions such as back problems, hearing loss, and sleep issues related to his service in the military.
From NICK DEGIGLIO: My PTSD therapist recommended I should get a service dog or I take up a hobby that requires persistent involvement on my behalf, not something I can just do whenever I feel like it. I was not impartial to a service dog but a friend I work with told me about the Hives for Heroes program that Beam’s Bees put together. So, I decided to fill out the application. I have always been interested in honey bees from articles I’ve read and speaking to friends that are beekeepers. I was very excited when Jesse and Heather contacted me because I was selected as the recipient of the complete hive set up.
I went out to meet Jesse and Heather to pick up the ready to assemble hive parts. It seemed like there was a 1000 pieces. So I took it home and started putting it together. It took me a few weeks working on it in my free time but it was really fun. I had to put all the boxes and individual frames together then paint it. It was more work than I thought it was going to be. When I was done it got me really excited to go back and pick up the bees and put them in their new home I made for them.
My friend that told me about the program ordered some nucs from Beam’s Bees, so when the bees where ready, he and I went out to the apiary together to pick up our bees. Jesse and Heather gave us all the information we needed to get them set up and acclimated and answered all our questions.
I got my bees home and all set up. My friend helps me out with hive inspections and answers a lot of questions that I have. I feed them almost daily. I open up the hive pretty regularly just to see what they are up too and what is going on inside. It’s pretty cool to see them working away. I learn more everyday by reading articles online, watching videos on YouTube, and following some beekeeping pages on social media.
Having the bees has been really awesome. Since I’ve gotten them I can really notice the difference dealing with PTSD. Working with the bees is very peaceful. It gives me an opportunity to get away from the stressors and triggers of daily life. I have found it relaxing just to take even that 10 minutes a day to feed them and just sit by the hive and watch them come and go paying close attention to whether they are bringing in pollen or concentrating more on the feeder. Whenever I start getting anxious or feel a panic attack coming on, I like to go out and tend to the hive. I have found that when I get near them I have no choice but to calm or they will also get irritated which is not good for either of us. They also help curb the anger issues since you have to be cool and careful while you are working with them. It helps with the depression since it gives you a sense of purpose, achievement, and accomplishment taking care of something that depends on you for its livelihood.
I am going to try to save some money over this winter because I would like to be able to purchase one or two more hives in the spring. I want to be able to get more veterans involved in my area that are dealing with the same issues as I am. I hope it can bring them some peace and tranquility like it has brought me. I volunteer with an organization called Vets For Vets in Pennsburg, PA where I mentor combat veterans that are transitioning out of the military or having trouble adjusting to civilian life by offering housing, job and educational opportunities, as well as providing any additional resources that may be needed to help in the adjustment period. We also complete outreach projects to assist senior and disabled veterans in the local communities by raking leaves and cutting grass to replacing roofs and bathroom renovations to help accommodate their disabilities. I would like to be able to introduce beekeeping to the individuals that I work with and mentor. My hope is to start a little network of veterans that are beekeepers and all work together on the endeavor to help bring back some of that comradery they once had in the military. I would like to able to harvest the wax and honey and sell it to fund more Hives for Heroes and raise money to donate to local veteran organizations that do so much for the veterans in my area.
I am thankful every day for the opportunity that Jesse and Heather provided for me. Working with the bees have has greatly improved my quality of life. I only wish they lived closer so I could work with them and learn more at the apiary.
Hive Update: Over the summer they didn’t really bother with the feeder. I only had to fill it once or twice a week. End of August - beginning of September, they were taking a jar a day. Then late September until last week they backed off the feeder since my mums and late bloomers came in. This week they are going through a jar about every other day.