PRISONERS at Palen Creek Correctional Centre are turning out hand-crafted homes for native bees, with the bee motels flying off the shelves almost as quickly as they are finished.
Custodial Correctional Officer Russell Stanford, who was instrumental in creating the innovative program, said the bee motels ticked a lot of boxes for all participants.
"Making the motels keeps the prisoners busy in a constructive way and gives them a routine to work to which helps keep the centre safe. It also gives them valuable skills which they can use to gain employment when they leave custody," CCO Stanford said.
"It also teaches basic carpentry skills, the value of teamwork and, importantly, the decoration of the motels provides a creative outlet not often found in a prison environment."
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While the PCC bee motels are more expensive than Chinese-made rivals CCO, Stanford claims they have major advantages over the competition.
"The motels made in China have to be fumigated on arrival in Australia and residues from the process kill any insects taking up residence," he said.
"Our motels are bee friendly, made from local, recycled timber and fallen tree branches and each bee motel from PCCC is completely unique, hand-painted in a variety of designs by the prisoners.
"They provide a safe haven for our native bees, which are particularly susceptible to chemicals in the environment."
Crafting the bee motels currently keeps three to four inmates busy, producing five to seven units a week.
PCCC bee motels retail for about $40 and can be purchased from Rathdowney Information Centre and Historical Association, Beaudesert Community Arts and Information Centre and Little Bee's Secret Garden, Canungra.