NORFOLK -- Virginia Lawmakers are trying to help out with the re-population of honeybees, and now they're actually taking money to try and sweeten the deal a little bit.

Starting in July, anyone who wants to keep honeybees can receive a grant for $200 per hive, up to $2,400 per person.

'I think people who might be reluctant to get into bee keeping, there's a little incentive there, they might get in,' says Frank Walker, president of Norfolk Beekeepers and past president of the Tidewater Beekeepers Association.

Governor McDonnell signed SB 354 and HB 300 into law after initially being proposed as a tax credit by the College Leaders Program.

'The last five years, the state of Virginia has lost 34 percent of their bees annually, so you're looking at three out of ten colonies are dying,' says Walker.

A single bee hive produces, on average, 80 pounds of honey per year, but honey bees also play a much, much bigger role in our country's food production.

'There are 80 crops in Virginia that rely primarily on honey bees for pollination, so all your fruits and vegetables are pollinated by honeybees. So if you want to have abundant and affordable fruits and vegetables in the country then bee keeping is the way to go,' says Walker.

The cost to set up a new hive in your yard runs $250-500.

Walker recommends anyone interested in getting started attend a meeting with a local beekeeping association.

Norfolk Beekeepers meet on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Virginia Zoo, and the Tidewater Beekeepers Association meets the first Thursday of each month at Towne Bank in Chesapeake.

Walker says the effort it takes to maintain a hive is minimal but the effects are far-reaching. Basically the bees do all the work.

'It takes 556 workers, traveling 55,000 miles, pollinating 2 million flowers to make a pound of honey,' says Walker.

There is also a SWARM HOTLINE if you see a swarm and worry about being stung. Call 757-285-4509 and someone will remove the bees and preserve them.

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