Grown Here at Home: VDACS accepting applications for Beehive Distribution Program

With a declining honeybee population in the Commonwealth, a program is in place to establish new beehives.
Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 7:34 AM EDT
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BLUE RIDGE, Va. (WDBJ) - Vasilia McCrady loves spending time with her bees. As the owner of Heritage Apiary and vice president of the Blue Ridge Beekeepers Association, advocating to save the honeybee population is a passion.

“If we lose our honeybees we would lose a lot of those crops that we have so determined to focus on and need in our everyday life,” Vasilia explained.

Vasilia and beekeepers from all over are concerned about the rapid decline of honeybees in recent years.

“In the state of Virginia, annually, we’re losing 40 percent of our honeybee hives,” she said.

Bee experts say pesticides, loss of habitat for the bees, and climate change are some of the factors playing a role in the decline. The Beehive Distribution Program through the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is in place to establish new beehives across the Commonwealth in an effort to save the bees. First, you fill out an application.

“You can pick what size hives you’d like – if you’d prefer an eight-frame or 10-frame, or if you’d prefer a horizontal hive option, as well. If you get chosen you’ll get an email from VDACS and they’ll send you three hives unbuilt, which you have to put together yourself, and from there, you would have to start networking on where you want to find your bees and your other equipment, like jackets and suits, smokers and tools.” Vasilia explained.

Although the program is only supplying materials for the boxes, that can help a beekeeper’s wallet. On average, one beehive can cost between $200 and $300; and some can be more expensive than that. Those chosen have one year to establish a hive with a viable colony of bees. Whether you’re an established beekeeper or someone who is ready to start beekeeping, it’s anyone’s game.

“I have not won one yet, but I keep applying,” Vasilia said.

The guidelines and application for the Beehive Distribution Program can be found here. Applications must be submitted online or postmarked by September 12, 2023.