Business

Navy Man Rehabilitates, Prospers as Beekeeper

July 19, 2019, 5:36 PM HST
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Dylan Dingels went from life in the Navy to life in the hive as a Hawaii beekeeper. Photo courtesy of Work Vessels for Vets Inc.

Navy Seaman Dylan Dingels found himself in search of a new career and therapeutic ways to return to civilian life after his medical retirement from military service due to injury.

Of all things, it was beekeeping in Hawai‘i that grabbed his attention. The occupation has provided Dingels a new confidence and passion for agriculture, as well as for supporting the sustainability of the natural Hawaiian ecosystem.

“After an injury and botched operation, I found myself in a wheelchair, medically discharged and severely depressed,” Dingels said. “I tried many things to overcome my grief and my circumstances, and after several tough years I have found my new identity in beekeeping. This is the first activity to give me joy apart from wearing the naval uniform. I believe it can help other service-disabled veterans to create positive change to the economy of this island and our country.”

Dingels turned to Work Vessels for Vets, a national nonprofit located in Mystic, Connecticut, whose volunteers focus on creating opportunities for injured veterans starting their own businesses. Using matching funds from the Newman’s Own Foundation, Work Vessels for Vets was able to donate a UTV to Dingels for his business, Pacific Island Queens, a specialized Hawaiian beekeeping company primarily involved in the production of top-quality queen bees. Currently over 70% of the US queens are purchased from Hawai‘i and 40% of the queens around the world come from Hawai‘i. Dingels continually documents the changes and behaviors of his hives, learning even more about developing healthy queens. His company is determined to sustain and add to the current capacity of healthy queen bees.

“Donations such as this UTV are helping not only one veteran in Hawai‘i, but also the farmers who need bees to pollinate produce we enjoy across the nation,”said John Niekrash, co-founder and chairman of WVFV. “Our success is largely due to partnerships with organizations such as Newman’s Own Foundation, which matches funds and enables us to award key pieces of equipment to veteran-entrepreneurs like (Dingels).”

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Work Vessels for Vets, Inc., outfits America’s returning veterans with the equipment they need to start a business. Learn more at www.WVFV.org. Since 2008, the volunteers at the organization have offered help to 2,000 disabled veterans in all 50 states and provided equipment valued at about $3 million.

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“We are proud to fund Work Vessels for Vets, Inc., as they work to make a difference for the men and women who have served,” said Bob Forrester, president and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation. “The freedoms and opportunities we enjoy as Americans cannot be taken for granted. The men and women of our military, veterans and their families deserve our enduring gratitude and support.”

More information on Newman’s Own Foundation is available at NewmansOwnFoundation.org.

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