Are you an enthusiastic beekeeper? Then this is your chance to expand the colony!

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has initiated its Beehive Distribution Program, where they will be giving away free beehives to help increase the insects' population. The application process will start on July 20.

Any resident of Virginia 18 years and above, experienced beekeeper or novice, can apply for a chance to win up to three hives per household. However, businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations are not eligible for application.

The bees are known as pollinators and are significantly responsible for several crops in the state. But, their count has been affected recently due to harsh weather conditions, predator insects, and human interference in their habitat. Last winter, almost 29% of the bee population died, raising concern amongst the state officials.

“In Virginia, honeybees are essential pollinators for about one-third of the state’s fruit and vegetable crops,” said Keith Tignor, the State Apiarist. “The Beehive Distribution Program will help counteract dramatic honeybee losses in the state by assisting beekeepers in establishing new hives.” The winners can choose from five different beehives, which include both vertical and horizontal ones.

Applicants must know that except for the hive (each hive costs approximately $100), no other equipment will be available free of cost. Winners need to arrange the safety equipment, honey processing equipment, and the rest, including the bees and given one year to assemble and occupy the hive with bees. 

Up to four hundred applicants had won the hives last time. After the program was stalled in the previous year due to the pandemic, the officials have doubled the money, hoping to raise more bee colonies.

If you are interested in the program, you can learn more on The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website.

Will you be applying for a free beehive? Share your honeybee experience with us in the comments.