Heroes to Hives was established in 2015 by Bee Wise Farms LLC by its owners Adam and Lacey Ingrao. Adam is an Army veteran, MSU Extension Educator and Veterans' Liaison. This 9-month program offered military veterans the opportunity to learn about beekeeping through instruction and mentorship. The pilot program was composed of five veterans from Vietnam through Post 9-11 eras. Students were instructed through a combination of lecture and hands-on educational experiences managing bee hives over an entire season. The pilot program received wide attention across Michigan, necessitating a program expansion and restructuring for 2017.
As a former student in the Department of Entomology at MSU, Adam had developed professional relationships with faculty that had offered assistance to the Heroes to Hives program in its pilot year. In late summer of 2016, he reached out to MSU’s newly formed Michigan Pollinator Initiative (MPI). The program fit directly into the objectives of MPI, and he helped transition the program to become an MSUE - MPI program, with funding and support from the AT&T Foundation and private donors, and a new home at the Kellogg Biological Station Bird Sanctuary.