efe-epaBy Martin Divisek Ostrava, Czech Republic

While some prisoners around the world might get TV sets or games consoles as a reward for good behavior, inmates in the Czech Republic have been sweetening up their time by making honey.

A select group of jailbirds serving sentences at Hermanice prison in the north of the country has been getting up close to a colony of bees to try their hand at apiculture.

Rostislav Mojzisek, a supervisor of leisure time at the prison, said the activity is beneficial for their rehabilitation.

"I see that beekeeping is pushing them forward, making sense of staying here and changing their nature," he told Efe-Epa.

"The reward for them is that they can be with bees."

The activity is part of a national program launched in 2016 that has been running at Hermanice since April 2017.

The idea of bringing beekeeping to prisons in the Czech Republic came from Norway after officials witnessed a similar initiative in jails across the Scandinavian country during a business trip.

A handful of Hermanice's 867 inmates - serving time for a range of crimes, from involvement in car accidents to murder - currently have the chance to work with the bees, as only a small number of people can physically move around the hives at any one time.

The first hives were brought into the prison when the program began and the prisoners have since built more of their own.

Six inmates currently take part in beekeeping activities, two of whom have been involved since the program kicked off two years ago.

Josef Blahut, a beekeeper who has been mentoring the prisoners, praised the inmates' efforts.

"They are active and interested. I'm very happy with them, they’re making progress," he said, adding that the group has been enhancing their knowledge of the practice from books.

"I want to learn more about beekeeping, I enjoy it," said Kamil Macozsek, an inmate who has been taking part in the activity for about three weeks.

The honey cannot be sold as the prison does not have a license but it can be given as a gift to organizations and family members to show the results of their work.

The logo that features on the jars was designed by the prisoners.

In 2018, the beekeeping inmates produced 250 kg of honey, but this year's production was expected to come in at less than half of that quantity owing to bad weather.

The environment around the prison provides ideal conditions for the bees as there are lime, maple and willow trees for pollination.EFE-EPA

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