Br. Gerry entered into the beekeeping hobby very unexpectedly early in his religious life - 1969 at the Redemptorist high school seminary in Edgerton, WI - when the Brother who tended 10 bee hives was transferred. After a crash course in beekeeping, he found the hobby not only calming and enjoyable, but a great success. When the high school seminary closed, Br. Gerry sold the bee equipment and hives. He was transferred to Holy Redeemer Parish in Detroit, where he served for the next 17 years.
Br. Gerry was transferred back to Wisconsin in 2003 to the city of Oconomowoc and beekeeping once again became part of his life. A local beekeeper who attended a retreat encouraged Br. Gerry to resume the hobby. He sold the honey to help support the retreat center. People showed great interest, so he began thinking of other ways to use the honey and beeswax in products to sell for additional revenue for the Retreat Center. He expanded into making all natural soap and lip balm, which are in great demand in the retreat center gift shop.
The honeybee is often overlooked in today's busy world. The amount of good that the honeybees do is more far reaching than just the honey they provide. Many fruits and vegetables require the pollination that only the honeybees can provide. The bees work in perfect communal harmony. It is rather spiritual to work with them throughout the spring and summer months - they actually teach me a lot.
People who have made retreats and friends of the retreat center sometimes come out and I suit them up and show them the inside working of a beehive. It is an opportunity that doesn't come along too often.