We have entered a new era in beekeeping. Diseases and pests have made it undesirable for beekeepers to keep to themselves and remain isolated from others in their region. Working together to keep all of West Virginia’s honeybee colonies healthy is the only practical way we can ensure the health of our own colonies. To this end, it is the mission of the West Virginia Master Beekeeper Program to provide science-based education to our current beekeepers and to develop future stewards and ambassadors for honeybees and beekeeping.
The purpose of this program is to help the individual improve his or her skills and knowledge of beekeeping by testing on a continuous basis, and to increase the effectiveness of the WV Beekeepers Association (WVBA) in providing resources to both the general public and the beekeeping community. This three-tiered certification process is not a requirement for anyone to have honeybees in the state of West Virginia or any other state. The West Virginia Master Beekeeper Program is sponsored by the WVBA and the program director is appointed by the executive board of the WVBA.
Any West Virginia Beekeepers Association member with an interest in honeybees and beekeeping is invited to participate in this program. All examinations will be given within the state. Candidates must have worked with honey bees for a minimum of 4 months to take the Apprentice level test.
Yes, at the Apprentice Level, you do not need to own a hive, but are required to have 4 months of beekeeping experience.
Not at the Apprentice Level. You can learn about alternative hives at the Certified Level. You can certainly keep whatever style of hive you wish, but training at the Apprentice Level will be with Langstroth hives only.
A list of the certification requirements for each certification are found with each program description. There is no time limit to complete each level of certification. You may move on to test the next level when you feel that you are prepared. However, if an individual fails to pass a level in testing after three attempts, they are no longer permitted to continue testing. Note that the required public service credits must be completed within three years of the level being tested.
Each level has a $5.00 fee for testing with a $3.00 fee for retesting.
Yes you would start at the Apprentice level. The certifications are sequential. You must have the Apprentice certification to be accepted into the Certified Level program.
No. It is up to the individual how many certification levels they pursue in the WV Master Beekeeper Program. You may stop at any level.
Credits can be no more than 3 years old and still count.
There is a public service credit form that you bring with you for each test taken so the
instructor can see that you have completed this requirement. At a minimum document
what you did (i.e. Gave presentation to Barbour County Beekeepers on spring
management), when you did it, and how many were in attendance.
The Apprentice level test is taken from Beekeeping Basics published by the Penn State Cooperative Extension and available at 814-865-6713. Questions for the Certified level test are taken from Beekeeping Basics well as The Beekeeper’s Handbook by Diana Sammataro and The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum. Question for the Master level test are taken from the Certified book list as well as Honey Bee Parasites, Pests, Predators and Diseases, Labeling Requirements for Marketing Your Honey available from the WV Department of Agriculture at 304-558-2210, and the WV Apiary Law (CHAPTER 19. AGRICULTURE. ARTICLE 13. INSPECTION AND PROTECTION OF AGRICULTURE) available online at www.legis.state.wv.us/wvcode and Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping (Chapters 12-20) by Dewey M. Caron and Lawrence John Connor. Refer to the section Reading Lists for complete titles, sources, and suggested supplemental reading.
True/false, fill in the blank, and multiple-choice questions comprise most the Apprentice and Certified level testing. The Master level test contains the same with the addition of some short essay questions to explain of why something was done, to explain how to do something, or to list items pertaining to a situation. The lab questions ask you what an item is and how it is used.
The apprentice is the beginner level. This tests your basic beekeeping knowledge. The
certified level is the intermediate level. This tests your knowledge in more advance skills
like re-queening, dividing hives, and entering honey shows. The master level is the
advanced level. This tests your knowledge of several different ways to do things, how
you can help a beekeeper decide which way is best for them.
Certification Levels and Requirements
- Four months of beekeeping experience is needed prior to taking practical test. This may consist of beekeeping in a mentor’s apiary or in their own apiary.
- Be a current West Virginia Beekeepers Association (WVBA) member.
- Pass a written test which is given at one of the statewide conferences with a score of 80%.
- Pass a practical test which is given at one of the statewide conferences with a score of 80%. The apprentice examination can include but is not limited to describing the physical parts of a beehive (common terms, not regional nomenclature); lighting and properly using a smoker; recognizing the various stages of brood; different castes of bees; and finding or at least describing the queen; differentiating between brood, pollen, and capped honey; recognizing propolis and describing its functions; describing the layout of a brood nest (placement of honey, pollen, and brood).