NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) ─ There’s more to Ian Shepherd than meets the eye.
The Newport resident is not only a decorated Special Olympian, he’s also a beekeeper.
“Beekeeping is a lot of work,” he said. “But it’s a lot of fun.”
And working hard is also in Ian’s DNA.
During his time with Special Olympics Rhode Island and has proudly represented the organization both nationally and internationally. He’s won dozens of medals, including during his trips to Japan, South Korea and Canada.
When he’s not on the slopes or working part-time at the Castle Hill Inn, Ian cares for a number of bee hives, including several at his parents’ house in Newport.
Ian walked 12 News anchor Mike Montecalvo through his routine, but not before making him don a special suit to protect him from the bees.
“You don’t want the bees to sting you, that’s why you need to wear a protective suit,” Ian explained.
Ian uses a smoker to calm the bees before harvesting the honey.
The bees fly in and out of the hives, bringing pollen and nectar with them from trees and flowers. He said while the worker bees store the honey, the drone bees focus on mating with the queen.
The queen bee also heads out on “mating flights,” Ian said. When she returns to the hive, she lays her eggs.
“Then in a couple of weeks, there will be newborn worker bees,” Ian explained.
Once harvested, Ian bottles the honey and sells it, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Special Olympics Rhode Island.
Ian takes everything seriously, according to his father, Mike Shepherd.
“About 10 years ago he said ‘dad, remember when you used to have honey bees? Let’s start it up again’ and I said ‘gosh, OK start reading up about it and YouTube it’ and he did,” Mike recalled.
In January 2022, Ian hopes to compete in the skiing competition at the Winter World Games in Russia.
His motto during competitions is, “You’re not going to get a gold medal a lot, but you’re going to try your best.”
Ian’s honey won’t be available for purchase until the end of the summer. Anyone interested in purchasing Ian’s honey once it’s ready can contact Special Olympics Rhode Island by clicking here.
12 News is a proud sponsor of the Special Olympics Rhode Island’s 2021 State Summer Games.