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Time to up your game?

Learn More
The bee season is well underway and hopefully beginners of all levels are enjoying opening the hive.
Are you also fascinated seeing the bees at work?
Would you like to know more but don't know where to start?
Perhaps now is the time to consider taking your beekeeping to a new level.
Perhaps now is the time to think about increasing your knowledge of what the bees do and why.
Time to improve your understanding of beekeeping?

Follow a guide
If you want to learn more the best way is to follow a structure - a syllabus.
The BBKA offer a series of syllabi which you can follow to improve your understanding of bees.
The first is the "Basic Assessment" and if you have kept bees for a year then you will already have covered most of it.

Probably there are still gaps in your knowledge:
Can you recognise a drone laying queen?
Can you recognise laying workers?
Do you know what to do if this happens to your colony?

You could use the Basic Assessment syllabus to guide your study.
You could use the Basic Assessment reading list to guide your reading.
There is even a correspondence course.
Having done the reading do you want to take the exam - it is only an hour long?

So how about an exam?
The exam is not the most onerous and beekeepers to whom I have spoken have all said how much studying for it has helped their beekeeping. The pass mark is just 50% -though you do have to pass all sections to achieve an overall pass.
The four sections are:

Manipulation and equipment - this is the practical section of the exam,
Oral questions of natural history and beekeeping,
Oral questions of swarming, swarm control and the effects of swarming,
Oral questions of pests and diseases.

You may have noticed there is no mention of written answers or a silent exam hall. This exam is a practical test with some oral questions.

So do you want to do the exam?

Have you kept bees for at least 12 continuous months?

If the answer is yes then you are ready for the exam - but not this year. It takes time to organise an assessor and a site where you can demonstrate your expertise in handling bees. For this reason it is best if you apply to take the exam before the end of May. However that is not to say that you cannot apply now for the 2024 season. Seems like a long time away but it will come quicker than you think.

If you have not yet kept bees continuously for 12 months then you will have to wait but you could still study whilst waiting. Hopefully you will have kept a colony right through the winter by Spring of 2024.

Once you are ready to take the next step then contact your local exam secretary. In the case of Dorset Beekeepers it is our local Examinations SecretaryTerry Payne who is on

I hope this helps - and even if you don't like exams reading about bees is fascinating.

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