Grants available for beekeeping

Imagine a world without beans, tomatoes, onions and carrots, not to mention the hundreds of other vegetable, oilseeds and fruits that depend upon bees for pollination.

And then take note of the facts, according to reports, that the worldwide bee population has been shrinking for years – and that Virginia farmers have been paying tens of thousands of dollars to rent bees to pollinate their crops.

The reasons?

Pesticides, weather, a mystery illness called Colony Collapse Disorder and parasites like the parasitic fly and the mite, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service. In fact, the service reports, honey producing hives in the United States have shrunk from 4.5 million in 1980 to 2.4 million in 2008.

And fewer bees results in fewer crops, and there are said to be signs throughout the agricultural community that the loss of bees is having a long-term effect on crop production.

In response to the problem the State Senate and House passed bills to create grants or tax credits to encourage beekeeping, and the 2012 General Assembly created the Beehive Grant Fund.

According to a recent release from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), beginning January 1 any individual who purchases a new hive or purchases materials or supplies to construct a new hive may apply for a grant from the fund. Each grant will be in the amount of actual expenses incurred for the purchase of items to establish a new hive, up to $200 per hive, not to exceed $2,400 per individual per year.

It’s been estimated that the grant will cover most of the cost to start a beekeeping operation. A beehive with bees runs about $200; protective jackets start at about $75; a smoker is about $35; and a couple of tools to pull the shelves out of the hive will cost about $20.

Appropriations for this program are $125,000 for Fiscal Year 2013 (July 2012 to June 2013) and $125,000 for Fiscal Year 2014 (July 2013 to June 2014), according to the VDACS news release. In the event that the amount of funds requested exceeds the amount of funds available that fiscal year, such grants shall be paid in the next fiscal year in which funds are available.

General requirements for applying for a beehive grant are:

  • The grants are available only to residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Applicants must be 18 years of age at the time the application is submitted.
  • Funds received through the Beehive Grant Program are subject to state and federal taxes.
  • New hives funded through this program, either fully or in part, shall be installed and remain within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • A qualifying purchase must include all of the following qualified items, provided the items are used to establish a new hive: hive boxes, frames and foundation.
  • The following items also will qualify if purchased in conjunction with the items above: bottom board, inner cover, outer cover, queen excluder and feeder.
  • Non-qualified items include hand or electric tools, honey bees or queens, hive stands, raw materials used to fabricate a hive component, used hive components and personal apparel or equipment.
  • Qualified items must be used to establish a new hive with a viable colony of honey bees within one year of the date the items were purchased.

Requests for grants from the fund may be submitted electronically to VDACS utilizing the online application that will be accessible at Applicants may also send completed applications or required documentation by mail or fax to: Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Office of Plant Industry Services, Beehive Grant Program, 102 Governor Street, Room LL55, Richmond, VA 23219,  FAX: 804.371.7793

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