After “The Basic” – What Next?

bee readingThe BBKA Basic Assessment is an enabling exam that all beekeepers should plan to take within their first few years of beekeeping. But what happens next?               

Until this year, other than simply practicing what you have learnt to date, the next formal qualification options would have been to … study for the academically focused BBKA Theory Modules, … work towards the Microscopy Certificate, … or to prepare for the more practical BBKA’s General Husbandry Assessment. To take all of these you need to have passed the Basic Assessment.

From 2018 there will also two new practical assessments which are intended to help beekeepers achieve a better awareness of the needs of honey bees and their management. They are ‘Honeybee Health’ and ‘Breeding Honey Bees’. 

Honeybee Health

Honeybee Health has been devised to bridge the gap between the Basic Assessment and the General Husbandry. It will be taken in the Association’s apiary between May and the end of August and you will be assessed by one assessor.

Breeding Honey Bees

To take this assessment you must have detailed experience of and records for your queen rearing. This is an assessment for the more experienced beekeeper.

General Husbandry

This practical exam is aimed at those who prefer a more hands-on approach to learning. It involves manipulation of one or more of the candidates colonies of bees, and demonstration of a method of selective queen rearing.


If you have an interest in pollen, anatomy and bee diseases this is the assessment for you. The assessment takes place in November and you will have to spend time in the year leading up to the assessment to prepare 6 pollen slides and 3 anatomy slides prior to the assessment which lasts from 2 to 2½hours.
To find out more about this assessment and maybe get some handy tips, have a word with Celia Perry, Bob Maurer, Adam Leitch and Geoff Blay who have passed it.

Theory Modules

These exams are aimed at those who prefer written work. They consist of seven 1½ hour written exams that can be taken in any order, apart from Module 8 which must be taken at the end. The exams are held in Surrey each March and November.

  • 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

If it has been a while since you did any serious studying, you may consider taking a correspondence course for the modules which will guide you through the syllabus at your own pace.

Further Information & Advice

For more information about ANY of the above courses, contact either Celia Perry, (Master Beekeeper, Surrey County Exam Coordinator  and Member of the BBKA Education Board) or Andrew Cornwall (RBKA Training Coordinator).

Additional advice and guidance may also be sought from Adam Leitch (NBD, Master Beekeeper) who can also advise about useful courses run by the NBD that can help candidates working towards many of the BBKA exams.

The syllabi for all of the current assessments and modules together with the application form and details of the fees and dates can be found on the BBKA website. The syllabi for Honeybee Health and Honeybee Breeding will be available in 2018.

Leave a Reply