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BBKA Exam Structure

The BBKA exam structure runs from Junior Certificate, Basic Assessment, up to General & Advanced Certificates in Beekeeping Husbandry. In parallel to the General and Advanced Husbandry examinations there are 7 subject-specific theory Modules. Supplementing these stages are special interest tests which are not part of the progressive examinations. These are: Show Judging, Honey Bee Health, Honey Bee Breeding and Beekeeping Microscopy.

The ultimate qualification is the National Diploma in Beekeeping, which is run separately from the BBKA structure. Below, are details of some of the exams.

Basic Assessment

This is an entirely practical and oral assessment and is the starting point and entry requirement for all other beekeeping examinations and assessments. It simply verifies that you have the basic skills and knowledge of the craft.

There are usually half a dozen members willing and able to take the assessment each summer and we would urge everyone who hasn’t yet done so to do it early in their beekeeping career. You meet the entrance requirement if you have kept at least one colony of honey bees for one year (more is equally acceptable!). It takes place at the Branch apiary over about an hour.

At first glance the syllabus seems daunting, but it merely lists the basic things which all beekeepers should know and requires that you can handle a colony of bees safely and sensibly. A few disease and general beekeeping questions rounds it off. To ensure success, preparation sessions are run by the Branch from April, with the assessment in late June or July. If you are interested, please contact Richard Simpson by the end of April (see Contacts page).

General Certificate in Beekeeping Husbandry

The entrance requirement for this qualification is that you have passed your Basic Assessment and normally kept bees for a minimum of 5 years.

It is designed for beekeepers who prefer the practical approach rather than the written examinations, although the same questions and topics that will arise must be equally familiar. On the day, your assessment is conducted by two BBKA Assessors and consists of:

  1. Inspection of the candidate’s apiary, equipment and honey handling equipment.
  2. Manipulation of one or more colonies of the candidate’s bees.
  3. Demonstration of a method of selective queen rearing.
  4. A short Q+A session on any honey bee related topic at a level consistent with the equivalent Module.

You will need to keep records of your hives for a year, as these may be used by the Assessors, and be able to present a minimum of three full, honey-producing colonies of bees. This means you should have a minimum of five colonies available in order to guard against colony failure, swarming, temperament issues etc.

The closing date is 28th February for each year.

Modules – A chance to improve and test your knowledge in all aspects of apiculture.

The Modules are written examinations held either in person or online with sittings twice a year in March and November. Each paper takes 1hr 40 minute with a maximum of 2 in each session. There are seven module topics:

Module 1 – Honey bee Management

Module 2 – Honey bee Products and Forage

Module 3 – Honey bee Pests, Diseases and Poisoning

Module 5 – Honey bee Biology

Module 6 – Honey bee Behaviour

Module 7 – Selection & Breeding of Honey bees

Module 8 – Honey bee Management, Health and History

Module 8 must be the last module to be taken, otherwise they can be tackled in any order.

After passing modules 1, 2, 3 and one other from 5, 6 and 7 you are awarded the Intermediate Theory Certificate and after passing all modules you are awarded the Advanced Theory Certificate.

The entry requirements to sit the modules are the Basic Certificate and at least 2 years beekeeping experience.

Dates for applications and sittings, together with current fees, are available on the BBKA website.
To apply for an assessment or module examination please contact Richard Simpson, education@edbk.co.uk. Richard will be able to give you the details to apply and help you prepare. There may even be others willing to form a Study Group to work through the requirements together. You will get a receipt by email to confirm BBKA have your application and the Branch will reimburse your BBKA exam fees at the rate of 100% for the Basic Assessment and 50% for your first sitting of each Module.

Books suitable for those studying for the Module Exams
A recommended reading list is on the BBKA website, many of which can be borrowed free of charge from the Branch library.
Download from BBKA website