The Apprentice Beekeeper

Beekeeper LogoThe Apprentice Beekeeper is the first level of certification in the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program. This level is designed to give those just starting in beekeeping solid information and support, with the goal of increasing retention of new beekeepers as they develop confidence in their ability to keep bees. Those entering the program with less than five years beekeeping experience may also benefit from the additional training and system for measuring their progress. The training, experience, and guidance provided at the Apprentice Beekeeper level provide the student with:

Certification Requirements

Certification Requirements for Getting Started Students Year 1:

Certification Requirements for Getting Started Students Year 2:

Certification Requirements for Continued Learning Students:

Classroom Training


Sixteen hours of classroom training are included in the Apprentice Beekeeper program. The volunteer Oregon Master Beekeeper instructors offer classes throughout the state.  Students located in areas without access to classroom training can participate in the Web Ex training from Corvallis live or after the fact. The student must attend a minimum of 10 hours of OMB classroom training in person or via the web to meet the classroom training requirement.

It is the responsibility of the student to record his/her time class hours to qualify for class points to meet this requirement of the program. We encourage students to take notes about the class including date, topic and instructor.

Class points can be recorded online or the completed Class Attendance Log can be submitted with other materials when applying for certification.

Education Points (6)

Gaining Experience

Education points are earned by attending educational events in which one learns through observation rather than through actually working colonies. Education points are assigned based on the number of hours dedicated to the activity. 

Examples of bee-related activities that qualify for education points are as follows:

It is the responsibility of the student to record his/her time involved in activities that qualify for education points to meet this requirement of the program. We encourage students to take notes about the educational events in their log including date, event, brief description and time.

Education points can be recorded online or the completed Education Point Worksheet can be submitted with other materials when applying for certification.

Field Experience Points (4)

Field ExperienceField experience is active, hands-on experience working with bees, hives, and beekeeping equipment. The student demonstrates the ability to perform specific hands-on manipulation activities on his or her own under the supervision of a mentor.

These activities are organized by beekeeping season and documented on the Field Experience Checklist. During each season, the student meets with a mentor at least once to work through the minimum hive activities listed on the checklist. The checklist may contain required discussion topics or optional, but suggested topics. If the student does not have prior experience, the mentor will demonstrate an activity and then the student will be expected to perform the activity independently.

A total of 4 field experience points are necessary to meet the Field Experience requirement for the Apprentice Beekeeper certification. Students are encouraged to meet with their mentors more than once per season; repetition and the opportunity to ask questions and cover additional material reinforces learning and builds confidence.

The 4 completed Field Experience Checklists must be submitted when requesting certification. The worksheets can be uploaded or included with other materials at that time. Examples of the required activities per season are listed, as follows:



  • Smoker operation and use
  • Beekeeper behavior when approaching a colony
  • Tool identification and use
  • Recognizing drones, workers, and queen
  • Recognizing pollen, honey, and brood in comb
  • Basic hive evaluation
  • Feeding and/or recognizing starvation
  • Mite monitoring


  • Supering: when, how many, which type
  • Colony management during honey flow
  • Honey harvest
  • Extracting, bottling, and storing honey
  • Storing honey supers
  • Providing water for bees (discussion)
  • Queen excluders (discussion)
  • Nectar dearth and robbing (discussion)


  • Hive evaluation: queen, food stores, and disease
  • Continued mite monitoring with sticky boards, sugar roll
  • Entrance reducers and mouse guards
  • Feeding
  • Recognizing and addressing small and light colonies
  • Fall treatment options (discussion)
  • Nectar dearth and robbign (discussion)
  • Mean bees! (discussion)


  • Feeding and/or recognizing starvation (late winter)
  • Checking overwintering hive(s)
  • Learning about equipment: needs, terminology, sources

Log of Colony-Management Activity

Colony of BeesStudents will maintain a log documenting observations and managing procedures every time they work a colony of bees. This could be their own hive, the colony they work with their mentor, or any other hive they are allowed access to. Ideally the log covers 12 consecutive months, at a minimum one entry a season for four consecutive seasons. There are numerous ways to document maintenance activities. Although the student will choose the format for the log, the log should document specific information that includes the following:

The student is encouraged to bring his/her log to each meeting with the mentor to provide an opportunity for the mentor to review the log and provide additional guidance. The log needs to be submitted as part of program requirements. It will not be graded, but it will be checked for completion by an instructor or other Oregon Master Beekeeper Program committee member.

Mentors can assist with suggestions and examples of log entries. Students who are technologically inclined may keep a log online with Hive Tracks ( Records from Hive Tracks may be printed out and submitted with other completed materials when applying for Apprentice Beekeeper certification.  Log entries can be uploaded or copies included with other materials when requesting certification.

Participation Criteria

Beekeeping Demonstration

Enrollment in the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program at the Apprentice Beekeeper level begins with submission of a completed application form. Subsequent placement in the Apprentice level is based on the incoming student’s beekeeping experience.

Zero to 1 year beekeeping experience without a colony

 1 to 4 years beekeeping experience

5 or more years of current beekeeping experience

Students who are in the Getting Started program are not assigned a mentor and in most cases will be accepted into the program. Students starting the program in Continued Learning need to be assigned a mentor. Assignments are based on the availability of volunteer program mentors in the student’s region.  Second year Getting Started students are assigned mentors first.

The enrollment process begins in late summer when notices to complete an application are emailed to those on the waiting list. Respondents are notified when a match with a mentor is made. At that time, the student pays the $150 enrollment fee. Before the first class, the student will receive the approved text and other related forms and materials.


The Beekeeper's Handbook by Diana Sammataro is the textbook used for the first level of certification in the program. The book will be sent to the student on acceptance into the program. A resource list with suggested organizations, reading materials, and websites will be provided also. Students are encouraged to read widely in honey bee literature and journals.

Written Exam


The written exam covers reading material in The Beekeeper's Handbook and additional specified supplemental materials. It may be taken at any time while meeting requirements for certification. The exam is open book and not timed. If the passing grade of 90% is not obtained, the student may take the exam again after 30 days.

Are you ready to take the written exam? Please email us at and we'll send you the exam and instructions. Good luck!