Apr 1st, 2012

Free Bees or Freebies?

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden 

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw an NBC12 article via Facebook on the possibility that State of Virginia would help support Virginia beekeepers (and farmers) by offering a tax credit to those who purchased hives.  Knowing that many of our members and fans take an interest in bees, I shared that article on the Garden’s Facebook page. One of our Facebook fans, Melora Loffreto, was intrigued and did a bit more research on the topic.  Lofretto owns  Zhenerbee Farms and explained, “Already raising chickens, growing organic vegetables, fruits and nuts, the addition of bees would be a great value to our little farm.”

Bee hives at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, photo by Grace Chapmann

Bee hives at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, photo by Grace Chapmann

Lofretto did some research and found out the scoop on the status of the bee tax credit. Here’s the low-down from the  Zhenerbee Farms blog:

The [NBC12] article stated that “the Virginia State Senate and House have passed bills to create grants or tax credits to encourage you to become a beekeeper. $200 per hive for a maximum of $2,400. State spending or tax credits for beehives would be capped at $100,000.”  Not willing to take anything for granted, I started my own path of research to confirm that the tax credits were indeed valid. After many calls to the State Tax Department which turned into dead ends, a call to The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services finally cleared up the details.

Unfortunately, at this point legislation has not been approved for the tax credit. The good news, however, is that the Governor is looking to put a grant program in place to offer the same incentives. Currently the program under consideration would offer $200 toward the purchase of a new bee hive set up with a maximum of $2,400 total per bee keeper. The budget being built would cap at $100,000 per year in granted funds. The gentleman I spoke with at VDACS was quite knowledgeable and suggested that this program should be officially announced some time in July of 2012 and a registration of beekeepers will be available (and required) at the VDACS Apiary Inspection page.

The grant program would initiate in January 2013, should it pass, and last through 2015.

For beginning bee keepers this is a great incentive to get started, and for those that already own a hive or two, a great way to expand.  Just knowing that the program is potentially available is the push we need to get the first hive underway. Hopefully the next 7-8 months of bee keeping will give us enough experience to feel confident to expand our bees with the use the State allocated grant funds.

Check back with us this summer for updates on Bee Keeping 101 as well as any updates on the grant opportunities being offered.

Happy Backyard Farming!!

Thanks for the update Melora. I can’t wait to read about your bee-keeping adventures and continue to learn about the State’s plan to help increase the bee population with these incentives.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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