Master Beekeeping Program

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 honey bee 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 honey bees 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.


The first level of certification is the Apprentice Beekeeper. Designed to give those just starting in beekeeping solid information and support, the primary goal is increasing retention of new beekeepers as they develop confidence in their ability to keep bees. The program seeks to meet these objectives by providing:

  • Opportunities for ongoing education, training, and hands-on experience
  • Coordination of instructors and mentors willing to share their knowledge and expertise through classes and with individual beekeepers
  • Suggestions for public outreach events in meeting program education and service requirements
  • Recommendations of resources, including print, Internet, video, and local beekeeping groups, for ongoing learning
  • An objective means for an individual to evaluate his/her own progress and level of expertise

The Certified Beekeeper is the second of certification level for a West Virginia Master Beekeeper. At this level, the participant builds on the base of knowledge and experience acquired at the initial level. The Certified Beekeeper gains and is able to demonstrate increasing skill and expertise with honey bees and colony management and expands knowledge and understanding of bees and their stewardship. In achieving these objectives, the candidate develops:

  • Increased knowledge of honey bee biology and practical beekeeping
  • The ability to manage a honey bee colony successfully over an extended period of time
  • Knowledge of and ability to use various resources to keep records, gain information, and solve problems
  • The ability to describe the pros and cons of a variety of conventional and alternative colony management practices
  • Exposure to a wide range of education topics
  • Knowledge of contemporary issues regarding honey bees and beekeeping
  • Opportunities to share beekeeping knowledge and skills through service to beekeepers and the public

The final level of accomplishment in the program is that of Master Beekeeper. To achieve this certification, one must possess the ability to successfully engage in all aspects of beekeeping including fostering in the community an understanding and appreciation of honey bees and beekeeping through mentorship, education, and participation in club and public functions.  In doing so, the Master Beekeeper exhibits skills allowing them to:

  • Have in-depth knowledge of honey bee biology and demonstrate expertise in colony management
  • Engage in ongoing public service activities
  • Present detailed, accurate, clear, and authoritative information to the beekeeping and non-beekeeping public, both orally and in written forms
  • Challenge themselves by developing proficiency in areas new to them
  • Think critically and seek answers to questions or observations using the scientific method
  • Support honey bees and beekeeping at local, state, and national levels