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Heroes to Hives program expands in Missouri

Military veterans will soon have additional opportunities to learn about beekeeping

HeroesToHivesUniversity of Missouri Extension agronomist and beekeeper Travis Harper teaches veterans and their families how to do beekeeping through the Heroes to Hives program.A free program to introduce military veterans to beekeeping will expand to a fourth site in Missouri this spring.

The program, “Heroes to Hives,” will now serve the St. Louis area, along with existing sites in Warrensburg, Mount Vernon and Poplar Bluff. More than 250 Missouri veterans have participated in the program, now in its third year.

The need for such programs is great for the more than 400,000 veterans who call Missouri home, said University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch. She oversees the program with MU Extension agronomist Travis Harper. Heroes to Hives offers training and community development centered around beekeeping, teaching veterans how to establish apiaries and sell honey and wax products. Students participate in a nine-month comprehensive education program that couples online lectures with hands-on learning. The group also tours veteran-owned businesses throughout the state.

Heroes to Hives participant Larry Soles, who served in the U.S. Army with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, said he enjoys the camaraderie of other veterans who are beekeepers or aspire to become beekeepers.

“Heroes to Hives and working with bees help me with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Soles said, describing the “wave of calmness” he feels when opening a beehive and hearing the humming of bees. “It does me good.”

Read More of the December 2023 / January 2024 Today's Farmer magazine Issue.

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