Missouri Heroes to Hives sign-up open through February


A program participant demonstrates using a fume board to remove bees so honey can be extracted. | Photo courtesy of University of Missouri Extension

COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri Extension is taking applications from veterans for the third year of the Missouri Heroes to Hives program. The free program trains veterans in beekeeping while also addressing their mental and physical wellness, said MU Extension agronomist Travis Harper.

In a press release, Harper said “Research has shown that the act of keeping bees can be very therapeutic, much like gardening and other outdoor activities. We also incorporate Q.P.R. suicide prevention training, stress relief and tai chi into the Heroes to Hives curriculum.”

The program, which runs March to December, consists of three parts:

  • Online training modules from Michigan Food and Farming Systems that veterans work through at their own pace.
  • Monthly Zoom webinars on topics specific to Missouri beekeeping.
  • Hands-on training at an MU teaching apiary in Warrensburg, Mount Vernon or Poplar Bluff.

“Our goal is to have in-person training sites located strategically across Missouri so that all Missouri veterans have access to training within a relatively short driving distance,” Harper said.

Heroes to Hives (H2H) is also available for those needing adaptations, he said. “More than 60% of our participants have some sort of service-connected disability. Beekeeping is very physically demanding, and we want to make sure all veterans who want to keep bees are able to keep bees. We work with them both in and outside the H2H curriculum to do this, sometimes utilizing other MU Extension programs such as AgrAbility.”

The program is free to all veterans – active-duty, reserve, National Guard, etc. – and their spouses or dependents.

Adam Ingrao, himself a veteran, started Heroes to Hives in Michigan in 2015 to address the personal and financial wellness of veterans through professional training and community development centered around beekeeping.

In Missouri, the program was piloted in 2021 with one training site. “The reception was overwhelming,” Harper said. “We had 300 veterans participate in the program. We added a second training site for 2022 and are adding a third this year.”

Missouri is the first state chapter of the national Heroes to Hives program.

Sign up for the 2023 season by Feb. 28 at www.heroestohives.com. Registration is through Michigan Food and Farming Systems.

Learn more about the national program at www.heroestohives.org.

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