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Veterans protect national food security by becoming beekeepers

Active military, veterans, and dependents can receive free training to become beekeepers thanks to the Heroes to Hives program.

Members of the military are used to protecting our national security, but with a program from Michigan State University Extension, they are helping protect pollinators and our national food security by learning to become beekeepers.

The Heroes to Hives (H2H) program provides knowledge, experience, and connections to veterans, active duty military members, National Guard members, reservists, and their dependents. Since its inception in 2015, H2H has trained more than 5,000 beekeepers through a free nine-module online beekeeping course. 

For the first four years, H2H was only open to Michigan residents, but after receiving requests from across the country, it opened to out-of-state participants in 2019. Thanks to new partnerships established this year with University of Missouri Extension, the University of Central Missouri, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the University of Minnesota, additional in-person education and training is now available in those states as well as Michigan. Other partners from across the U.S. will be added in the future.

In Missouri, H2H participants can receive hands-on training at the University of Central Missouri's Mitchell Street farm, plus get region-specific management tips from the beekeeping experts at the University of Missouri Extension. They are also given networking opportunities with regional beekeeping organizations and service providers.

In Nebraska, H2H coursework can be applied to the educational requirements for the apprenticeship level of certification with Great Plains Master Beekeeping. Much like a master gardeners program, this regional network of beekeeping professionals provides training, education, outreach, and mentoring for other beekeepers. Participants can advance through the apprentice, journeyman, and master levels at their own pace, and can also gain hands-on knowledge at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Bee Lab Research Apiary.

Minnesota participants receive real-world beekeeping training and can attend in-person workshops at apiaries in Minneapolis and Rochester. 

Current and former service members, their spouses, and their adult children can click here to register for the H2H online course. Learn more at the Heroes to Hives website.

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