Safeguarding U.S. food security by protecting the most important managed pollinator on the planet.
Heroes to Hives is a unique program offered through Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Food and Farming Systems and our partner Universities that seeks to address financial and personal wellness of veterans through FREE professional training and community development centered around beekeeping. Veterans leave our program with a broad depth of beekeeping knowledge, as well as personal and professional relationships that open up new opportunities and ensure long-term peer support. Our students understand the importance of pollinators in US agriculture and stand to protect managed honey bees through small-scale sustainable beekeeping operations
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About the Program
Heroes to Hives students participate in a 9-month comprehensive education program that couples online lectures with hands-on learning in our Heroes to Hives apiaries located across Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota and Nebraska. Students receive 2-6 hours of lecture content every month from March-November that is pre-recorded, so that they can learn at their own pace. Online instruction is then couple with on-ground training April-October on hive handling, hive inspections, pest and pathogen management, and beekeeping ergonomics. Students who complete the course are eligible to receive a certificate of completion from MSU and can transfer credits to the Great Plains Master Beekeeping Course offered through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Interested in how the Heroes to Hives Program works? View our program preview video below to learn more about Heroes to Hives and what to expect from the program.
Training the Next Generation of Beekeepers
Our focus is to educate veterans to be the next generation of small scale beekeepers and we believe veterans are the best positioned demographic to fill this important service for US agriculture. We believe that through beekeeping veterans have the opportunity to continue to serve their country as they transition from protecting our national security to our food security. We support our veterans through comprehensive training, a supportive community, access to the most current scientific knowledge, and a network of veteran beekeepers across the country.
Community Building is a specific focus of the Heroes to Hives program and our veteran centered approach to teaching and engagement allows veterans to feel comfortable and supported in a peer network of veteran beekeepers. Our students also engage their larger communities through "live hive" demonstrations and mentorship of new beekeepers.
Marine Corps veteran and Heroes to Hives Trainer Nick Kaminski demonstrates how to conduct checks for varroa mites, a global honey pest, on a live bee hive at the Michigan Honey Festival. Experiences in educational outreach give veterans new ways to serve and engage their communities.
Heroes to Hives Supports Veterans and Honey Bees
Michigan is home to ~640,000 veterans who are facing a multitude of challenges as they transition from military to civilian life. These challenges include anxiety, depression, dealing with service related health issues and disabilities, and finding career opportunities that are personally rewarding. These challenges are exacerbated by the loss of the camaraderie and support that is inherent in military units and often results in a sense of isolation and loss in the lives of many transitioning vets. Heroes to Hives offers veterans a chance to reconnect with their brothers and sisters in arms with a common mission of protecting the most important managed pollinator on the planet.
Air Force veteran Torrie Condet inspects a frame of bees.
Honey bees provide pollination services to 35% of agricultural crops grown, a service worth almost 20 billion dollars in the US each year. In the last decade, beekeepers have reported losses at unprecedented rates, with beekeepers losing 30 – 40% of their colonies each year. Beekeepers face more challenges than ever before, with pests, pathogens, poor nutrition and pesticides making beekeeping more difficult, and expensive. Heroes to Hives seeks to set our veterans up for success in beekeeping through intensive training focused on honey bee health and minimizing losses to ensure sustainable beekeeping operations.
Heroes to Hives is open to all US veterans, active duty personnel, National Guard, and reservists across the globe. Whether you are retired at home or active duty far away from home we welcome you to the Heroes to Hives program. Although our curriculum is specifically focused on beekeeping in Michigan veterans in any location will gain valuable knowledge on honey bee biology, colony biology, pest and pathogen management, and overwintering. Out of state students are also welcome to join us at our on-ground classes in Michigan.
Heroes to Hives is open to military dependents (spouses and children over the age of 18) of participating veterans only. Dependents are enrolled by the veteran participant at the time of enrollment.