Syllabus of Examination for Proficiency in Apiculture:
Apiary Practical Senior & Beemasters Examination

Senior apiary practical application form for 2017 is available here

Beemaster application form for 2017 is available here


Inspection of Apiary, Equipment and Honeybee Products

The candidate will be required to:

  • present his/her apiary, or apiaries and the records maintained over at least three years, to the examiners for inspection (a minimum of three full stocks of honeybees will be required); the candidate must also show proof of having exhibited at honey shows
  • have spare equipment available for inspection;
  • have combs not in use available for inspection and demonstrate methods and place of storage;
  • Show how combs are stored to keep them free of vermin, dust, dirt, and absorption of contaminants, e.g. storage in a garage near paint or oils or solvents.
  • Show how wax foundation is stored to keep it fresh and free of contaminants.
  • have the equipment used for the recovery of beeswax available for inspection;
  • have the apparatus used for queen rearing available for inspection and show proof of queen rearing;
  • have samples of his/her honey bottled ready for sale;
  • have samples of his/her beeswax ready for sale.


Honey Processing

  • have extracting and honey handling equipment available for inspection;
  • demonstrate that the place where extracting and honey handling is carried out complies with the current legal requirements for food processing and packing;
  • Have vermin control in operation.
  • Water supply used for processing equipment should comply with potable quality.
  • Show what procedures are used to prepare jars for bottling.
  • Where a domestic kitchen is used for processing, show how it might be prepared beforehand, e.g. surface cleaning, removing possible contaminants, laundry, pets etc.
  • Where a honey processing building is used, show how it can be wiped clean, covered light bulbs, equipment cleaned, potable water supply, vermin control, honey stored while awaiting processing.
  • Show how the cleaned extractor, settling tanks, buckets and associated equipment is stored, when processing is complete, e.g. dust covers and outlet valves bagged over (sandwich bag).
  • Show samples of candidates own honey.
  • Show samples of candidates label.

NB This new section “Honey Processing” will be a mandatory must pass to pass the exam. It will have 20 marks allocated to it. This means that the candidate must achieve 70% or 14 marks in this section. If the candidate scores 13 or less it is a fail irrespective of what total mark is achieved.


Demonstration of Practical Beekeeping

The candidate will be required to demonstrate:

  • proficiency in any manipulation of honey bee colonies requested by the examiner;
  • proficiency in the use of any of his/her equipment requested by the examiner;
  • knowledge of the progress of each colony during the current season and to show apiary records kept over a period of at least three years;
  • knowledge of the origin and age of the queen in each colony;
  • knowledge of the existence of any disease in the colonies and to describe what action is being taken to deal with it;
  • proficiency in methods of selective queen rearing;
  • proficiency in the clipping and marking of queen honey bees;
  • proficiency in taking samples of honey bees for the purpose of dispatch for disease diagnosis.


Natural History

The candidate will be able to:

  • give an oral account of the life cycle of the honey bee, including timing of the main stages.,
  • give an oral account of the production of the sexes and the two castes;
  • give an oral account of the production of swarm, supersedure and emergency queen cells and the condition of colonies in which each of these is produced;
  • describe the signs in a colony of a drone laying queen and laying workers, and give an account of the circumstances in which each are produced;
  • give an oral account of the seasonal variation of the population size of a honey colony and an explanation of such variations;
  • give an oral account of the food required by the honey bee.


Bee Behaviour

The candidate will he able to give an oral account of:

  • the function and behaviour of the worker honey bee throughout its life including types of work done, duration of work periods under normal circumstances and variation in behaviour due to seasonal changes and the state of the colony;
  • the organization of the honey bee colony;
  • the mating behaviour of the honey bee queen and drone;
  • the queen honey bee's egg-laying behaviour including the variation of numbers laid with changing circumstances and time of year;
  • the methods of communication used by the honey bee including food sharing, dancing, scenting and vibration;
  • the defensive behaviour of the honey bee;
  • the behaviour of the foraging honey bee and its work methods in the field, including orientation;
  • the collection of nectar and water and their use by the colony;
  • the interrelationship of nectar, honey and water in the honey bee colony;
  • the conversion of nectar to honey and the role of the honey bee in accomplishing this;
  • the collection and storage of pollen by the honey bee colony;
  • the collection and use of propolis by the honey bee colony;
  • the conditions leading to swarming;
  • the conditions leading to supersedure;
  • the behaviour and requirements for survival of honey bee swarms;
  • the production of beeswax, the initiation of comb building and the construction of comb;
  • the honey bee colony in winter, its behaviour and requirements for survival.


Honeybee Forage, Plants and Pollination

The candidate will be able to discuss:

  • the species, and the flowering times, of nectar and pollen producing plants of importance to the honey bee in Ireland and particularly those in his/ her own locality;
  • the effects of weather conditions on nectar secretion;
  • an outline of the problems in extraction of honey, including Brassica (rape, mustard etc.) and heather honeys;
  • the origin of honeydew and its appearance and effect upon the resulting honey;
  • the pollination of flowering plants and give an oral account of the use of honey bee colonies in the pollination of seed and fruit crops;
  • the floral sources of undesirable nectar and its effect on the bee and on the honey produced.


Diseases, Pests and Poisoning

The candidate will be able to give an oral account of:

  • the signs of American Foul Brood (AFB) and European Foulbrood (EFB);
  • the statutory requirements relating to the diseases of honey bees and their implementation in Ireland.
  • the treatment of EFB and AFB including methods of destruction of colonies and sterilization of equipment;
  • the signs of Chalk and Sac Brood and any recommended treatment;
  • the signs of all adult honey bee diseases found in Ireland and the methods of their treatment;
  • the signs of poisoning by natural substances, pesticides and herbicides;
  • the crops most likely to be sprayed causing damage to honey bee colonies;
  • the methods that can be used by the beekeeper to diminish the problem of spray poisoning of honey bee colonies;
  • the action to be taken when spray damage is suspected;
  • description/recognition of the Varroa mite and how it should be dealt with;
  • description/recognition of the Small Hive Beetle and how it should be dealt with
  • the currently advised methods of detection and treatment of Varroa mites; consequences of treatment.
  • be able to show a record of all treatment purchases,
  • be able to show a record of all treatments applied to colonies,
  • be able to show how out of date or unused parts of treatments are dealt with.


Apiary and Honeybee Management

The candidate will be able to discuss:

  • his/her own methods of beekeeping; define the "bee space" and its influence on the design of beekeeping equipment;
  • the various hives used in Ireland;
  • the various types of frame used in Ireland;
  • the use of wax foundation and its home production;
  • methods of fitting frames with wax foundation, including wiring and embedding;
  • the various methods of spacing frames in hives, give the usual dimensions of these spacings and the advantages and disadvantages of varying the spacing;
  • how to begin beekeeping, including the acquisition of bees, sources of equipment and costs, and any precautions necessary;
  • the factors to be considered in the setting up of colonies in both home and out apiaries;
  • the criteria used in the selection of out apiary sites;
  • the drifting of honey bees, the dangers caused and methods of apiary layout to minimise this problem;
  • the year's work in the apiary and describe how this is dependent upon the annual colony cycle and the timing of local honey bee forage;
  • feeding honeybees, including types of feeder, amounts fed, types of food and timing of feeding;
  • the preparation and use of pollen substitutes and supplements;
  • the supering of honey bee colonies and the relationship of supering to swarm prevention;
  • the use of the queen excluder and the types in general use;
  • swarm prevention and control methods;
  • methods of taking and hiving swarms of honey bees;
  • methods of making nuclei and the various uses to which nuclei can be put;
  • means of building swarms and nuclei into colonies for honey production;
  • methods of uniting honey bee colonies and any precautions which need to be taken;
  • methods of queen rearing;
  • methods of queen introduction, the precautions to be taken and the attendant difficulties in relation to time of year, colony conditions and strain of honey bee;
  • robbing in its various forms, its prevention, dangers and methods of termination once it has started;
  • the spring management of honey bee colonies;
  • the special problems that oilseed rape poses in relation to management, extraction of the crop, carry over of honey in combs and wintering of colonies;
  • the assessment of the quality of a honey bee colony for honey production:
  • methods of marking and clipping queens, and the value of these practices;
  • the summer management of honey bee colonies;
  • the management needed to cope with different districts, weather conditions and the timing of flowering of forage plants;
  • management of colonies for the production of comb honey, sections and cut comb;
  • methods of moving colonies and the difficulties and dangers involved;
  • management of colonies used for migratory beekeeping for both honey production and pollination services;
  • methods used to "clear" bees from supers;
  • methods of preparing colonies for the winter period;
  • the use of mouse and other predator guards and describe the damage these pests can cause;
  • the damage caused by the two species of wax moths;
  • methods of storing comb to prevent wax moth damage;
  • methods of fumigation of comb and equipment, and general maintenance and preservation of hives;
  • the effect of stings on humans and any first aid treatment which can he applied.


Honeybee Products

The candidate will be able to give an oral account of:

  • the main requirements of the statutory regulations affecting the handling, preparation for sale, composition of honey, labelling and weight of packs of honey;
  • methods of decapping honeycombs and separating the cappings from the honey;
  • methods of extracting honey, including heather honey, from combs and the types of extractors used;
  • methods of straining and settling honey after extraction;
  • the conditions needed for the storage of honey for future use;
  • the preparation and bottling of extracted honey for sale (liquid, creamed and granulated), the equipment used and the temperatures which are required;
  • the preparation of sections and cut comb honey for sale;
  • the avoidance and remedies for the problems of high water content, frosting, fermentation and coarse crystallization of honey;
  • the methods of recovering beeswax;
  • the uses and marketing of beeswax;
  • other honey bee products such as pollen, royal jelly and propolis;
  • the preparation of honey bee products for the show bench.



Disease Sampling Form

Teagasc offers a Honeybee disease diagnostic service to beekeepers, more information available here

Bee Research Project!

FIBKA are co operating with CIT to run a beehealth project to improve the genetic diversity of Irish honey bee stocks, funding needed either corporate or individual. Click here for more info!

All-Ireland Pollinator Plan

Great news! - The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 is released this week. Click here for more info!

Got something to say!?

We are looking for people to submit articles on beekeeping or anything related to it, on a once off or a regular basis. If you think you could put pen to paper, then please email the Beachaire Manager, Dermot O'Flaherty at