After serving in the marine corps, Hives for Heroes founder Steve Jimenez didn’t know beekeeping would be the key to reintegrating into civilian life. But as soon as he saw how much being around the insects helped his mental health, Jimenez said he wanted to share his experience with other veterans.

“A very good friend invited me to a beekeeping experience, and I absolutely fell in love. Working with the bees changed my perspective of life, and at that time, they literally saved my life,” Jimenez said. "It was a pretty difficult transition phase from the military, and the bees just talked to me in a very incredible way that was extremely healing to me.”

The action taken

Hives for Heroes was launched in Houston in 2018 to teach veterans, active-duty military members and first responders beekeeping skills to help them adapt to civilian life or deal with post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder. The nonprofit has veterans and volunteers in every U.S. state, serving more than 31,000 hives total, Jimenez said.

Hives for Heroes also has several corporate partnerships, including one with Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s global headquarters in Spring. HPE opted to work with the nonprofit in November 2022 after Customer Innovation Center Manager Amanda Pena—whose husband is a veteran—proposed the idea earlier that year.

The inspiration

After the HPE campus opened in Spring in April 2022, employees noticed the local Vitex trees attracted a lot of bees to the area, Pena said. Instead of banishing the bugs, Pena campaigned to bring more to the office.

Pena said she feared her coworkers might have an adverse reaction to the idea of bee-related charity efforts, but instead, she was met with curiosity and, ultimately, excitement. The office now has six hives with about 300,000 bees total, which are cared for by Hives for Heroes veterans as well as HPE employees who can sign up for volunteer beekeeping shifts.

“It's a beautiful thing that everyone is taking ownership in,” Pena said.

The impact

On Aug. 16, HPE and Hives for Heroes had their first honey harvest together, during which veteran beekeepers educated employees about the on-campus hives and honey was sold to raise money for Houston-area charities. The proceeds will be distributed in September, Pena said.

Get involved

Hives for Heroes has four core values—connection, relationships, purpose and service—which are funded by donations and corporate collaborations, Jimenez said. The nonprofit offers scholarships for veterans to attend beekeeping school, and he said he hopes the community will continue to support those efforts.

Pena said she’d love it if the community could learn more about bees and how important they are for the environment.

“The pesticides affect [bees]; this heat is affecting them right now, so leave out a little saucer dish with some rocks and put some water in it so they’ve got a place to get water,” Pena said.

Hives for Heroes

919 Oak St., Houston

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

1701 E. Mossy Oaks Road, Spring