Assessments & Exams

What is available?

The Basic Assessment (provided by WBKA)

By the time you have managed a colony of bees for a year you will have built up your skills through practical experience and this is the ideal time to start thinking about talking the Basic Assessment.

This is not a written exam.  Rather, your practical skills and knowledge will be tested by a WBKA assessor, usually at an association apiary.

The assessment lasts for about an hour and covers 4 sections: –

  • Manipulation and equipment – a practical assessment of your ability to handle bees and equipment, and to interpret what you observe.
  • Natural History and Beekeeping – oral questioning to assess your knowledge.
  • Swarming, Swarm control and effects – oral questioning to assess your knowledge.
  • Diseases and pests – oral questioning.

Each section is worth 25 marks and to gain a pass you need to achieve 50% in each section.

Success in the practical will get you a certificate and you will be eligible to take, in due course, higher practical assessments.

The closing date for Basic Assessment applications is 1 May (which should enable the assessments to be arranged and taken during June or July).

On receipt of your application, the WBKA Basic Assessment Co-ordinator will liaise with your local association education officer and/or apiary manager, and the WBKA Assessor, to arrange a time and date for your assessment.

Results are not given on the day of the Assessment, so you will find out how you did at a later stage.  Certificates are usually issued through local associations, so they may be presented at a suitable opportunity.

There is a junior equivalent of the Basic Assessment for younger beekeepers.

So, what next?

There are a number of other beekeeping assessments and exams you might wish to consider.

Here is a diagram (reproduced by kind permission of BBKA) which shows how the exam system looks currently in England & Wales.

All of the exams and assessments currently available, apart from the Basic Assessment, are provided through BBKA but Wales candidates should apply using the form on the WBKA website, rather than direct to BBKA.

The modules

You no longer need to have passed the basic assessment in order to take modules, although the first three modules in particular do build on the topics covered in the Basic Assessment.

The modules are written theory exams, and there are 7 in total.  The knowledge they help to build will complement your practical experience and skills.

The 7 modules are: –

1 Honey bee Management

2 Honey bee Products and Forage

3 Honey bee Diseases, Pests and Poisoning

5 Honey bee Biology

6 Honey bee Behaviour

7 Selection and Breeding of Honey bees

8 Honey bee Management, Health and History

(There is no module 4 – this was dropped some years ago).  The modules may be taken in any order (except for 8 which must be last).

There is a reading list and module past papers can be obtained to aid revision and practice.  BBKA also provide correspondence courses for module study and these may be used by study groups, as well as by individuals, to help prepare for exams.  A study group can be a great way of preparing for a module with others and many participate in these just to further their knowledge in a social setting without wishing to proceed to take the written exam.

There are other resources which may help support your study and the WBKA Exam Secretary will be happy to discuss and suggest options which might suit you and can also offer some exam technique tips and advice.

Higher practical assessments

If written exams are definitely not for you, you might consider taking one of the higher practical assessments e.g. the General Certificate in Beekeeping Husbandry (General Husbandry).  As with modules, WBKA use the BBKA products for candidates in Wales but you should still apply using the form provided on the WBKA website.

Email if you have any queries or would like some more information.

Last page update 05/08/2020