RICHMOND—Virginians are excited about raising honeybees. Due to an overwhelming response to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Beehive Distribution Program, the program has been suspended. VDACS anticipates that the current volume of applications will utilize all funding allocated for the program. “We received more than 2,500 applications for the Beehive Distribution Program in the first few weeks of July last year,” explained Keith Tignor, state apiarist. “The requests exceeded the available funding for the program.” Tignor said VDACS anticipates funding will be available for the next fiscal year—2019 to 2020—and applications will be accepted beginning July 1. A link to an online application will be activated on the VDACS website at that time. “Honeybee and other pollinator species are very popular with enthusiasts and gardeners,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “It’s no surprise the Beehive Distribution Program is so popular.” VDACS transitioned from its Beehive Grant Program to the Beehive Distribution Program in July 2018. The goal of the program was to increase the number of active beehives, and thereby pollinators, in the commonwealth. “There are local and national vendors that sell equipment as well as bees,” said Aaron Evans, a VDACS agricultural inspector. “Supporting them is helpful. Being mindful of chemical applications and planting pollinator favorites are also helpful.” To help protect pollinators BeeCheck, a Virginia apiary registry, was created as a voluntary communication tool that enables beekeepers and pesticide applicators to work together to protect apiaries using a mapping program. More information is available at va.beecheck.org. Homeowners and apartment dwellers are encouraged to plant pollinator gardens and window boxes. Border plantings of bee-friendly plants around crop fields provides needed bee forage, particularly in hot, dry summer months and into the fall. Beekeepers also should monitor for Varroa mites in their hives in July and August, and take appropriate steps to reduce damaging levels of that parasite. For more information visit vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-and-pest.shtml. Media: Contact Tignor at 804-786-3515.