By MELINDA WILLIAMS
If you’d like to become an apiarist, or beekeeper, now’s a good time to get started.
With many honeybees having been lost to colony collapse disorder over the past few years, the 2012 Virginia General Assembly hoped to rebuild the population by creating a new program, The Beehive Grant Fund, that offers funds for the establishment of new bee colonies.
Those funds are now available for individuals who purchase a new hive or materials and supplies to construct a new hive. Each grant is in the amount of actual expenses incurred, up to $200 per hive, and cannot exceed $2,400 per individual per year.
Program guidelines and qualifications can be found at vdacs.virginia.gov. For more information, call state apiarist Keith Tignor at 804-786-3515.
Once you receive funding, Wytheville Community College will help you get started on the right track with a beekeeping class that gets underway Monday, Feb. 4, and continues Mondays, Feb. 11, 18 and 25. Classes run 7-9 p.m. in 118 Carroll Hall.
A $35 class fee includes the textbook. Discounts are available for eligible families taking the class.
Classes fill up quickly, so contact Mickey Cunningham at 276-579-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Class applications and information also is available at www.mountainempirebeekeepers.com. Mountain Empire Beekeepers Association, a nonprofit organization with 152 members, offers the classes through WCC.