Do you run a bee keeping business and you need fund to expand your operation? If YES, here are 7 sources of grants for honey bee keepers and how to get it.

Bees are a critical part of farming and the ecosystem as a whole. This is because bees pollinate up to one-third of all crops that that are used for food in the world. In fact, the majority of the nation’s fruit and vegetable production is dependent on these hardworking insects. Not only that, but bees are known to produce one of the most nutritious sweeteners in the world today in the form of honey.

But the sad fact that has been noticed in recent years is that bee colonies have been declining rapidly. The USDA reports that the number of honey bee colonies in the united states dropped from 6 million in 1947 to 2.5 million as seen today.

Scientists are still investigating the reason for this drop, but meanwhile, the government and concerned organizations have been investigating ways they can lift the current abysmal number of bees in the states and the nation at large.

It is for this reason that the government and concerned individuals are giving out grants to people that are interested in farming honey bees in a bid to raise the bee population in the country. There are several financial aids for raising honey bees available in the United States that you should try to apply to.

For example, Virginia’s state government had set aside $125,000 grant money to encourage people to consider the value of raising bees. The grant funding began due to the 2012 report of bee’s dying from colony collapses, parasites, pesticides, and disease.

In a similar vein, the USDA (Department of Agriculture) announced on June 20, 2014 their own program to help boost beekeeping. This program set aside 8 million dollars in incentives for those living in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin because research revealed that more than half of commercially managed honey bees can be found in these states.

If you are interested in farming honey bees, but you do not have the money to kick off the venture, the good news is that there are several bee raising grants that are available in the United States. We are going to show you some of these grants and teach you how to get them.

7 Types of Grants Available for Bee Keeping Businesses

  1. Federal Grants

The federal government is very much interested in the affairs of bees, not for the sake of the insects, but for the sake of the role they play in agriculture. In fact, as of last year, it was reported that bees pollinated more than 130 kinds of fruits and vegetables across the United States which worth more than US$ 15 billion. Therefore, the Federal government promotes and encourages honey bee farms through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The department has multiple grant programs that can be used to promote bee keeping, covering the education and training for sustainable beekeeping. For example, they have the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) that can help people or businesses raising honeybees to cover the loss of their honey bee hives.

It should be noted that these grants are aimed for managing bee hives that are used for honey production. Wild, feral honey bees are not eligible are not eligible for farming under this grant.

There are many more programs offered by the USDA to promote the declining honeybees’ population. To proceed any further, you need to contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office to learn more about the opportunities available in your state.

  1. States Grants for Raising Honey Bees

Aside from the Federal grants offered through USDA, some state also offer bee keeping grants that are used to boost the number of honey bees in their areas. Each state may offer a different kind of financial assistance and they may also have a different policy, but usually, there’s always some kind of assistance available.

For example, honey bee apiary in Tennessee can apply for a grant that is aimed to ensure the health of the bees by examination and inspection. Other states such as Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and New York have been known to provide financial help in the form of grants to promote bee education and also to help new beekeepers invest in basic start-up supplies.

For you to be eligible for these grants, you have to complete the training that was set aside by the state government. But before you do this, you must first of all check their eligibility requirement to see if you qualify. After the training, you can then apply for the grant.

This type of assistance can also be found in South Carolina, West Virginia, North Carolina, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Colorado. Other states also provide some kind of assistance, because beekeeping offers many benefits for both the environment and also the agriculture.

  1. Conservation Innovation Grant

Another grant you may be qualified to apply for as an intending apiary owner is the Conservation Innovation Grant. Most states offer Conservation Innovation Grant programs aimed at helping small businesses adopt innovative approaches to the environment.

For example, Kansas CIG funds individuals and small, for-profit businesses for single or multi-year projects including field demonstrations and pilot projects. A business starting an apiary is eligible under the grant, which pays between $50,000 to over $200,000. New Jersey, Alabama and Virginia all offer similar grants, as do a number of other states.

  1. Farmers Market Grant

Yet another grant you can check if you qualify for is the farmers market grant. This grant is provided by farmers market associations for the sake of boosting agriculture.

The 2016 Farmers Market Promotion Program grants provided up to $500,000 to agricultural cooperatives, group- or member-owned producer networks or other eligible applicants that sell agricultural products. As long as the sales are for the mutual benefit of the members, a cooperative apiary business may qualify for the grant.

  1. Aggie Bonds

While coming in form of a bond instead of a grant, the Aggie bonds are another form of financing available to bee keepers. The Beginning Farmer Loan Program, also known as an “Aggie Bond,” enables state governments to help first-time farmers by creating a bond that enables lenders to offer low-interest loans. An individual starting a rural apiary business qualifies as a first-time farmer, although he will have to repay the loan over time.

  1. Rural Enterprise Grant

The USDA’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant program funds rural projects that help small and emerging rural businesses. These grants can range anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000, and its grantees must be public entities, Indian tribes or private, nonprofit corporations.

The grantees are then able to use the funds to support small businesses, which employ fewer than 50 people and have gross revenues of less than $1 million. The businesses can use the grant money to buy and develop land, buildings and equipment. Starting an apiary can comfortably fit into the funding area of these grants, so you can apply as a bee keeper or an intending one.

  1. USDA Conservation Reserve Program Pollinator Initiative

In 2014 the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded a Conservation Reserve Program pollinator initiative, in which $8 million is made available to farmers and ranchers who meet the following criteria:

  • Those who are able to strengthen and increase the number of honey bee colonies by replacing diminishing food sources and habitats necessary for raising honey bees, such as replacing existing honey bee habitats with more nutritious flowering plants.
  • Intending bee keepers that are located in North or South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan or Minnesota.

If you are a farmer or rancher in one of the above mentioned states, then know that you can access this grant program by contacting the Farm Service Agency office for your community, or by logging on to the FSA website. To qualify for this program, you must get approval for your land for inclusion in the Conservation Reserve Program and you should also make an application to the FSA for access to grant funds.

  1. Farmers Market Promotion Program

The USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program is another source from which you can get finance to fund your apiary and other agricultural concerns. This program provides funding to domestic agricultural producers, including those in the business of raising honey bees, for the purpose of giving U.S. communities greater access to locally produced agricultural goods.

The grant typically ranges from $5,000 to 100,000. Grants from this program are made to benefit only groups of two or more farms or vendors who produce honey for direct sale to consumers.

Eligible applicants for this grant include agricultural businesses and cooperatives located in any of the 50 states, including Washington, D.C. and various U.S. protectorates. Applications are accepted once per year, and application materials are accessible through the Grants.gov website.

A Detailed Guide on How to Get Grants for Raising Honey Bees

Having outline some of the various grants that are available to citizens in the United States that want to go into honey bee keeping, we would now attempt to show you how you can access some of the these grants for your business.

While going through this article, you should note that the steps mentioned here vary depending on the type of grant you are applying for are the requirements the funding organisation asks for. But you should have it in mind that these are the general steps that are applicable to most of the grants.

  1. Search For An Opportunity

For someone seeking to get a grant to raise and multiply honey bees, the first step you have to take to make this a reality is to search out grant opportunities that are near you. You can go through google or you can go through the USDA website. Again, most of the grant sites have their own form you have to fill, so you do not need to bother about printing out, unless you are told to do so.

Grants.gov is another good place to get look out for grants that are related to bee keeping. The website provides email notifications (link is external) and RSS Feeds about all federal grant opportunities, including NIFA. You are advised to use this service to keep informed of grant opportunity postings and updates. This is necessary because grant offers do not come up all the time, so you have to be notified when these grants are available.

2. Determine Eligibility

After identifying a funding opportunity that you’re interested in applying for, the next thing you have to do is to find out if your organization is eligible to receive that type of funding (i.e. competitive grants, capacity grants, non-competitive grants).

To determine eligibility, you need to review the eligibility requirements given be the funding institution (this is usually found on their website or the offer for grant page). Usually, all funding institutions do not have the sesame eligibility requirements, and these requirements vary based on location, size and objectives of the organisation.

3. Apply For the Grant

Having gone through the eligibility requirements and finding that you qualify for a number for the grant, the next step you have to take now is to take the time to apply for the grants. You have to make your application as requested by the funding organisation.

Follow the application instructions and submission requirements provided in the application guide. To be considered for funding, all required forms must be submitted as part of a complete application package. Your application will not be considered if all required forms are not submitted together.

4. Submit your application

If you are done filling you application, you now need to submit it through the link provided in the application form, unless you were instructed to print out and send to a certain address. If you missed the approved deadline due to a forgivable circumstance, you should review the late application consideration documentation for further information.

After submission, and depending on the organisation, you may be given a submission receipt number, submission validation receipt, or confirmation of grant application receipt. Thereafter, the only thing you have to do is wait to see if your application was successful.

Ejike Cynthia