Beekeeping has become a popular hobby in Virgina. In 2018 the state of Virginia rolled out the Beehive Distribution Program. Through this program, beekeepers over the age of 18 could apply to receive 3 free beehives.
Last winter beekeepers lost 60% of their colonies due to weather and disease. Virginia set up this program in order to help declining honey bee populations and promote pollination. In fact, the Beehive Distribution Program did so well that applications have been put on hold for now, as the number of beekeepers that have applied have exceeded their expectations.
But if you are interested in beekeeping in Virginia, don’t let that deter you. Virginia has a lot of services and resources to help all beekeepers. If you are thinking of becoming a beekeeper you must first look at the beekeeping laws in Virginia to make sure that you are able to follow all ordinances.
Beekeeping Laws in Virginia
Virginia utilizes a bee law which implements apiary inspections. Their apiary inspection program regulates the sale of bees and used bee equipment. All honey bees on combs, hives and equipment with combs must be accompanied by a certificate of health issued by the Office of Plant Industry Services prior to being sold in Virginia. They do this to reduce the spread of disease.
Anyone bringing honey bees on combs or used equipment with comb into the Virginia must first obtain an entry permit. In addition, queens and packaged honey bees brought into Virginia must be accompanied by a certificate of health issued by the state of origin.
Virginia has certain entry requirements in place to stop the spread of deadly diseases such as American Foulbrood, pests like the small hive beetle, and aggressive species like the Africanized honeybee. All nucs, hives, and beekeeping appliances entering Virginia are subject to inspection by the by the VDACS apiary inspection service .
If any infestation is found, the hive must be destroyed within 10 days. In addition, the owner is required to treat the soil immediately around the infested item with a US Environmental Protection Agency approved soil drench pesticide.
Virginia has shipping requirements to prevent the spread of the Varroa mite. Varroa mites are a major pest to bee colonies. They are parasitic mites that attack and feed on honey bees. Large infestations have been known to kill entire honey bee colonies. Therefore, during transit all packages shipped to Virginia must receive preventative treatment with an EPA approved miticide for Varroa mite.
If ordering queens or package bees from another state, the bees must have a European Honey Bee Certificate, as well as a certificate of health. This is to ensure that the bees do not have disease and are not africanized honey bees.
Virginia uses BeeCheck, an online apiary mapping system. BeeCheck maps apiary locations and provides beekeeper contact information.
Pollinator Protection Program
Virginia’s Pollinator Protection Program regulates pesticide usage. This is important to beekeepers, as the use of pesticides can kill bee colonies. This program aims to reduce the risk of pesticide exposure to pollinators when pesticides are used nearby or within their normal foraging range.
Virginia Beekeeper’s Association
Beekeeper’s associations are a great place to learn about beekeeping laws in Virginia. There, you will be able to meet other knowledgeable and experienced beekeepers. Look below for the Virginia beekeepers association in your area.