NEWBERRY, Mich. (WJMN) – To ‘bee’ or not to ‘bee’, a question not usually associated with veterans, PTSD or healing. But, for one Army veteran it’s a valid question, that the science and the art of beekeeping is a perfect fit for our nation’s veterans.
Heroes to Hives is the brainchild of U.S. Army veteran and beekeeper, Dr. Adam Ingrao. His vision of providing an education in beekeeping to veterans has been realized. Heroes to Hives is currently teaching participants the business of beekeeping and more importantly, the healing capacity of bees.
“The Heroes to Hives program is the nation’s largest beekeeping education program for military service members,” said Dr. Ingrao. “Essentially, the program takes our veterans and military service members through nine months of intensive beekeeping training. With beekeeping, it’s that mindfulness that’s being enforced. So when we’re in the bee garden, we’re present, we’re living in our present life and not living in traumas. As soon as we start to slip back into those memories, those bees can bring us back with something as simple as a sting.”
Heroes to Hives offers online instruction in partnership with Michigan State University Extension and hands on training each month at locations including Bee Wise Farms, Dr. Ingrao’s family farm he runs with his wife Lacey. Dr. Ingrao realized early on the similarities between bees and the military.
“The bee hive in general is structured a lot like a military unit,” said Dr. Ingrao. “Everyone has their job, everybody has their responsibility, there’s a chain of command and so a lot of these things are familiar to veterans.”
Heroes to Hives is only available to veterans and their dependents. It is run by veterans for veterans. Along with education, comradery and a sense of purpose is a central pillar of the program. Much of a veterans service involved destruction and conflict, Heroes to Hives is all about nurturing and growth.
“Beekeeping has a way of speaking to veterans that many other career opportunities just don’t,” said Dr. Ingrao. “It’s very nuance, but it’s very meaningful to our students who have taken the Heroes to Hives program and thousands of veterans that we have working all across the world.”
To date, more than 8,200 vets have participated in the online program, with 50 to 60 veterans per month working the hives at Bee Wise Farms in Newberry. Dr. Ingrao believes that veterans struggling with PTSD, emotional well being and feelings of isolation can be’e’ addressed one bee at a time.
Applications for Heroes to Hives are currently being accepted through February 28, 2023. To apply or learn more, click here.