RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Are you a Virginia resident aged 18 or older? You are eligible to apply for free beehive equipment distributed by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Application for the 2023 Virginia Beehive Distribution Program — which provides free equipment to assemble new beehives for honeybees — begins Monday, Aug. 28, and is open until Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Applicants will be chosen at random, the department said.

“In Virginia, honeybees are essential pollinators for the fruits and vegetables consumed by people and wildlife,” said Keith Tignor, State Apiarist. “The Beehive Distribution Program helps counteract dramatic honey bee losses in the state over the past several decades by assisting individuals in establishing new hives.”

Businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies are not eligible to receive beehive equipment. Multiple people within the same household may apply, though beehive units will be limited to three units per household in the same fiscal year, July 1 to June 30.

The department said that recipients of the equipment must assemble the beehive unit and occupy it with a colony of honey bees within one year of receiving the equipment. The department does not provide personal safety equipment or honey processing equipment.

To learn more about the program or to submit an application beginning Aug. 28, you can visit the Beehive Distribution Program website.