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Love at Work

Memphis is a geographic hub for sex trafficking and the scene of significant prostitution activity. Thistle and Bee was founded in 2015 to help women survivors reclaim their lives.

Thistle & Bee’s mission is to help women who have survived prostitution and trafficking thrive through a holistic approach that addresses the individual needs of each woman in our program. 

Our program has three parts

  • Housing in a two-year residential community
  • Wrap-around services addressing physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs
  • Employment and job skills training in our social enterprise

We pay for this through product sales, donations, and grants.

Background on Thistle & Bee

We began in spring 2014 with a small group of volunteers. Inspired by Magdalene/Thistle Farms in Nashville, Tennessee, we set out make a difference in the lives of women exiting prostitution and sex trafficking in Memphis.   

Thistle & Bee 501c3 status in May 2016. A Board of Directors was then formed and in 2017 professional staff was hired to implement a three-year strategic plan. 

The organization began with a social enterprise based on keeping beekeeping and selling honey. We have since added super-premium granola made with our honey, herb teas, and beeswax candles.

Through a partnership with St. Columba Episcopal Conference Center, where the majority of the bees are housed, the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee, and local philanthropists, Thistle & Bee’s apiaries grew in summer 2018 from 13 colonies of bees to more than 80 colonies.  

With a professional staff that includes a full-time Executive Director and Clinical Program Director, Thistle & Bee is now opening the program to more women.  

Our Model 

Thistle & Bee offers women hope and healing through a holistic residential and therapeutic clinical program and employment in our social enterprise.  

Thistle & Bee provides each woman services based on her needs. Our clinical program is two years, with aftercare available upon completion. The social enterprise offers two years of employment in a supportive environment, with the potential for employment and mentoring roles beyond that.

We are paving the future for the next generation.  The women in the Thistle & Bee program are breaking the cycle of poverty and multi-system failure that has brought us to a place where sex trafficking and prostitution are at an unprecedented high.  Successful graduates of the Thistle & Bee program who are interested in working with us after graduation will help the residents that follow them.  The model works.

Our Apiary  

Thistle & Bee works with the community to place and care for bee colonies. The community at these locations hosts our 80 colonies of bees: 

  • Baptist Reynolds Hospice House, Collierville, Tennessee 
  • Church of the Holy Apostles, Memphis, Tennessee 
  • Immanuel Episcopal Church, La Grange, Tennessee 
  • Ravenscroft Episcopal Church, Brighton, Tennessee 
  • Second Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee 
  • St. Anne Episcopal Church, Millington, Tennessee 
  • St. Columba Episcopal Conference Center, Memphis, Tennessee 
  • St. Philip Episcopal Church, Memphis, Tennessee 
  • Private Farm Land, Millington, Tennessee 
  • Private Farm Land, Pocahontas, Tennessee 


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