Regardless of whether you intend to be a commercial beekeeper or an enthusiastic hobbyist, beekeeping is a skill and there is much to learn. The British Beekeepers Association has developed a comprehensive qualification and examination structure. Top qualifications include “Master Beekeeper” and the “National Diploma of Beekeeping”. You can find out more by clicking here.
The entry level qualification is the Basic Assessment and we are aiming to have at least half our membership obtain this qualification by the end of 2017. To encourage members to take the Basic Assessment the Society may reimburse the examination fee. Interested members should get in touch with our Education Officer. An application form and the syllabus are available on the BBKA website. You can check on whether you are ready to take the 'Basic' by doing our on-line quiz.
Chris Deaves, past Chairman of the BBKA’s Education and Husbandry Committee described the Basic Assessment in the following article which was published in the January 2012 issue of BBKA News:
By now, you will have gathered that there is more to beekeeping than you first thought. You will probably also have gathered that the BBKA operates a system of Examinations and Assessments - please keep reading! The BBKA qualification structure is well-established and extensive. There are both theoretical and practical routes through this, together with some other topics such as more advanced microscopy techniques and honey judging. However this is all for the future.... The entry point to all these more advanced qualifications is the “BASIC ASSESSMENT”, commonly called the 'Basic'. Without this you cannot proceed to more advanced qualifications, but that is not its main purpose.
The real role of the Basic is to allow the novice beekeeper to have their skills and competence assessed to encourage them to continue and develop their beekeeping. In this sense, it is exactly like the driving test. Taking your driving test does not mean that you are the world's best driver (although you may think that at the time!) but it does mean that you have been assessed as being safe enough to go out on the road on your own and improve your driving skills through experience without being too much of a menace to others. So it is with the Basic. If you have kept your bees for a full year (spring to spring, not March to September) then you are eligible to take the Basic. SWMBKS will organise this for you – see below. The Basic can be taken at any time (often after the main honey crop). It is a practical assessment of beekeeping skill, simple recognition of the elements of a colony, basic disease and problem recognition and what to do about it and general beekeeping knowledge. You work with a hive with the assessor on a one-to-one basis and are assessed by oral questioning – no writing!
There are many advantages to taking the Basic. Firstly, you get a great-looking certificate to hang on the wall and a badge to put on your beesuit. More seriously, the Basic is often used by allotment and other land managers and produce market operators as an expression of competence and may be required by them. Taking a larger perspective, the fact that there is a system of beekeeping qualifications AT ALL is a surprise to most people – by taking the Basic you are adding, bit by bit, to the perception of beekeeping as a responsible and 'professional' craft. This is important in these days of 'elf & safety' and a litigation-minded society. Lastly, the assessor will teach you something as well. I have never known a Basic candidate who did not actually find the assessment instructive. Please think about it seriously.
The following links take you to the BBKA website for associated documents:
Please contact the Education Co-ordinator about taking the 'Basic' or any other examinations.