Heroes to Hives helps veterans with bees

Ben Phillips | Courtesy photo Heroes to Hives Instructor and U.S. Army veteran Adam Ingrao instructs Heroes to Hives students.

ESCANABA — A MSU Extension program giving veterans an opportunity to get involved with beekeeping has arrived in Escanaba. Though attendance at a recent workshop was light, Heroes to Hives Instructor and U.S. Army veteran Adam Ingrao said things have been going relatively well for the Heroes to Hives program locally so far.

Heroes to Hives offers online education and workshops focusing on beekeeping to veterans and their dependents. The online portion of the program begins in March; for 2019, 280 people from across the country have been participating in this part of the program.

Ingrao said veterans from Michigan and 25 other states are involved with Heroes to Hives’ online portion. This marks the first year involvement in the program has not been limited to veterans in Michigan.

The local area’s first Heroes to Hives workshop took place at the Escanaba Community Garden, which is facilitated by MSU Extension, on Saturday, June 8. The workshop focused on setting up equipment for the program.

“We were installing the beehives, and then we were checking for Varroa (mites),” Ingrao said.

There are roughly 20 Heroes to Hives students in the Western U.P., Ingrao said. However, participation in the workshop was limited.

“The two individuals that came both were Navy veterans,” he said.

Ingrao listed multiple factors that may have played a role in limiting workshop participation. Among these factors was the fact that many beekeepers were already familiar with the workshop’s subject matter.

He noted it is normal for attendance at early Heroes to Hives workshops in a new area to be relatively light, as well.

“Generally, it’ll take a little time to get that on track,” Ingrao said.

Additional Heroes to Hives workshops have been scheduled for July 20, Aug. 17 and Sept. 21. Like the first workshop, these will take place at the Escanaba Community Garden.

The July workshop will deal with managing healthy hives.

“Both of the last ones are focused on wintering practices,” Ingrao said.

According to Ingrao, Heroes to Hives’ online portion will continue well after the final workshop of the year.

“The online (portion) of the class goes through November,” he said.

To learn more about Heroes to Hives, visit the program’s web site at heroestohives.com or find “Heroes to Hives” on Facebook.