December 10, 2012
There could be more bees buzzing in the Commonwealth in 2013. At the start of the new year, anyone who purchases a new beehive or materials to build a new one can apply for some grant money.
The money comes from a fund created by the General Assembly set up to promote the establishment of new beehives in Virginia. Beekeeping has become a growing hobby in central Virginia, according to local bee enthusiast Karen Hall.
Hall is the queen of beekeeping for the Virginia Discovery Museum in Charlottesville. She said part of the increased buzz in local interest could be due to similar grants in the past, aimed at tackling problems in the bee population like colony collapse disorder.
"It's like [bees] leave the hive and don't return, so what happens is the hive just dies out," said Hall. "It's like they somehow got lost and didn't know how to come home."
Hall said pollination impacts one-third of everything we eat, so keeping more bees around helps ease the sting of CCD.
"The way to get around that is to grow stronger and have more bees, so local hobbyists are the way to do that."
But she says, just like you shouldn't buy a puppy just to put it under the Christmas tree, you shouldn't buy a beehive just because someone's giving you a grant.
"Don't get involved because somebody is handing you some money," Hall said. "Make sure you're sure of what you're going to do because it needs to be a long-term commitment."
Hall projected that it costs about $500 to $600 to start a new beehive. The grant money would cover $200 for each new hive. A beekeeper cannot exceed $2,400 per year in grants.
The legislature has allotted $125,000 for fiscal year 2013 and another $125,000 for the following fiscal year to go toward beehive grants.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has set up guidelines regarding the grant fund. To access the online application to apply for grant money, visit the website here: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/