Before I start, we all need to prepare for the alphabet soup.
USDA stands for the United States Department of Agriculture. It has a division called FSA (Farm Service Agency). Through the FSA county office (the county where the hives were), I applied for ELAP (Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish). Had the tornado come in July or August, I probably would have also applied for NAP (Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program). But since it came in March, that was not a concern to me. The immediate need is woodenware. I am placing bets on swarms and splits from kind individuals who have offered.
My biggest struggle with filing for ELAP was showing the number of hives and colonies that were on site on March 5, 2022. I had submitted inspection records from the weekend before the tornado and they weren’t enough. FSA asked if I had loans or receipts. Well, I had receipts and messages and a rockstar network that supported me fully. By rockstar, I mean that people gave results in less than 24 hours after I asked.
You see, I had gotten a new phone in early January, and with the new phone came a loss of all text messages over the last few years with the old phone. I really needed my network to show up for me.
For phone and in-person conversations, I was able to have emails attesting to me getting a hive with bees or splitting an order for a treatment, etc. Additionally, I found a relevant Facebook message.
And now I wait for a determination from FSA. My understanding is that I would be eligible for replacement costs at a standard rate rather than the exact woodenware and bees that were actually present (which I am able to show with photos). Package deliveries for 2022 have come and gone. Nucs will still be happening for a month. The inconsistent weather has slowed the progress of all beekeepers around me, and I’m pleased that I’m not missing out on a massive build-up period.
I think I’m moving to mostly mediums, a change that I began a few years ago. I will probably keep the two sound deep boxes that I inherited in November and any deep frames to fill them. I also have a handful of nuc boxes with deep frames that I can use for my observation hive as well as future cut-outs and swarms. For every day operations, I’m committing to medium boxes, standardizing inner covers and bottom boards when and where I can.