Heroes to Hives is a unique program through Michigan State University Extension that seeks to address financial and personal wellness of veterans through 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.
Since 2016, Heroes to Hives has trained 128 military veterans and their spouses.
Our main Heroes to Hives instructional apiary is housed at the beautiful and peaceful Kellogg Biological Station Bird Sanctuary, providing our veterans and instructors a quiet natural setting. In addition to our main apiary, we also offer on-ground training at sites in Chatham, East Lansing, Frankenmuth, and Traverse City, MI.
New for 2019!!!
For 2019, we will be adding on-ground training sites in Escanaba, Canton, and Manchester, MI! Additionally, we are opening the online portion of the program to all veterans, National Guard members and their spouses across the US. Apply for the 2019 program here 2019 H2H Application.
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.
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.
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 of beekeeping management techniques at beekeeping events in Michigan.
Marine Corps veteran 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.
Current and Future Funding
Heroes to Hives is fully funded by the generous support of the corporate and private donations. If you would like to help support Heroes to Hives, please visit our fundraising page and type "Heroes to Hives" in the search.
Special thanks to our past and present supporters: