Heroes to Hives

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.

Find us on Facebook Donate


Our Mission

Safeguarding US food security by protecting the most important managed pollinator on the planet


Heroes to Hives is a unique program through Michigan State University Extension 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 

Registration for the 2020 Program is closed. 

Registration for the 2021 program opens Nov. 1, 2020 and closes March 15, 2021


Since 2015, Heroes to Hives has trained 456 military veterans and their dependents that currently manage over 2,000 bee hives across the US.


Our 2020 cohort has 476 participants (343 veterans and 133 dependents) making us the largest farmer veteran training program in the United States.


Heroes to Hives participants learn about beekeeping.

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 locate across Michigan. 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 May-October on hive handling, hive inspections, pest and pathogen management, and beekeeping ergonomics nearly every weekend during the beekeeping season at one of our training apiaries located throughout Michigan.


Interested in how the Heroes to Hives Program works? View our program 2020 preview video below to learn more about Heroes to Hives and what to expect from the program.


20180908_130352                  20180714_102412


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

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. 


Heroes to Hives participants learn about beekeeping.

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.


Healthy Hives Clinic



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.



Torrie Condet

Air Force veteran Torrie Condet inspects a frame of bees.

Honey 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.


Non-Michigan Veterans

Heroes to Hives is open to all veterans across the US. 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.


Military Dependents 

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. 


Heroes to Hives trains veterans on best practices for honeybee health and minimizing loss to sustain bees.

MSU Extension receives endowed gift to grow ‘Heroes to Hives’ veterans program

November 11, 2019

The Dick L. Wendorf Endowment for Veterans Initiatives will support the MSU Extension beekeeping program, Heroes to Hives.

Adam Ingrao Ph.D.

Adam Ingrao Ph.D.

Extension Specialist: MSU Extension Veterans' Liaison / Agricultural Entomologist
MSU Extension