Veteran's Day is just behind us, so it seems like the perfect time to talk about this worthy program that brings bees and veterans together for the greater good of both.

The Heroes to Hives extension program runs at Michigan State University (MSU) at East Lansing and is a unique way to help military veterans make the shift back into civilian life in a less traditional way.

Adam Ingrao is the founder of Heroes to Hives and is an Army veteran himself. As a veteran he had struggled with opioid abuse for a couple of years after getting out of the military. He created the program because of the life changing impact a beekeeping class in California had on his own life.

This 2:32-minute video gives a great feel for this noble program:

Many returning veterans need to earn a living but find it hard to fit into everyday working life. Heroes to Hives teaches them that beekeeping is an excellent business opportunity, and they can turn it into a family business. They are trained in beekeeping as well as learning how to make it a lucrative business.

Veterans learn at their own pace, receiving free professional training and community development that is centered around beekeeping. The Heroes to Hives program is a 9-month comprehensive program with hands-on learning at Heroes to Hives apiaries across Michigan and online lectures. It is open to all veterans across the United States. Since 2016 the program has trained 408 military veterans and their dependents to date. They currently manage over 2,000 beehives across the country.

The program gives veterans way more than a beekeeping course. Mindfulness becomes a necessary focus, and they soon learn they must be present with their bees or the bees will let them know. They find that investing themselves in this business and developing routines presents them with the chance to go deeper into self-healing, so they can move away from tough times.

Heroes to Hives gave Ingrao something irreplaceable. It gave him purpose. Not only was he creating a livelihood for his family, he was also protecting bees and helping to protect the food growing chain in his country. Without bees, many of our crops would not grow and that could lead to food chain insecurity.

To protect and to serve. Beekeeping becomes a new form of service with a higher purpose and is a great fit for those who specialize in serving their country. The new skills that veterans and their family members learn at Heroes to Hives are life skills that will stand them well as they move forward in life, able to achieve and maintain a quality independent lifestyle.

We’ve blogged about the Heroes to Hives program before but are giving it another shout out for all the good it does on so many levels. Ingrao hopes to see this program expand to be available in all US states, and we hope it will be, too.

We'd like to know about more programs like this wherever they exist... please share over on our Facebook page.