Field Exam Protocol

  • Candidates will be graded on their ease and familiarity with colony examination techniques and on their responses to questions asked by the Master Beekeeper examiner. A score of 85% or better is required to pass the field exam.
  • A candidate should come properly attired for colony inspection with his/her own veil, smoker, smoker fuel, lighter for the smoker and a new (unused) hive tool. Candidates who do not normally use smokers must nonetheless be familiar with their use.
  • The exam will consist of having the candidate open one or more beehives. Proper approach, method of opening, use of equipment, examination and closing of the hive is expected. Each colony examined should be evaluated by the participant. Questions regarding hive condition, pieces of equipment, proper use of hive accessories, and colony care will be asked by the examiner during the examination. The candidate will be expected to evaluate the condition of the colony, especially as to the amount and condition of brood, food, caste members and evidence of past and present colony conditions. In short, the candidate should confidently handle each colony examined and be able to determine hive and colony conditions.
  • Candidates should also expect to answer questions about normal colony inspection, care, and under what conditions and time of year certain manipulations (e.g. checking for queen cells, making divides, etc.) should be performed and how to complete such manipulations.
  • Use of gloves is discouraged except under special conditions, e.g. skin allergies, severe weather conditions, defensive colonies, etc. If you wish to wear gloves only new disposable gloves will be permitted in the apiary.



The best preparation for the field exam is practice, practice, practice. In your practicing, consider being a mentor—all clubs are looking for volunteers to help the 'newbees.' By helping others, you will perfect your own skills—what better way to show you know than to teach others?

Join an expert, such as an apiary inspector if your state/province has one as he/she inspects colonies. This will also provide an excellent opportunity to learn about diseases and pests (see study notes under the lab exam) while observing and learning from the expert. Ask the expert to critique your hive handling skills—a good way to learn is by listening to what others have to offer on how you do things. Demonstrate your hive opening and explanation technique with the expert and have him/her critique your inspection.

Volunteer for your bee day/open hive event (if your club or association has one) or start one at your own apiary. You will also be developing the ideals and objectives of an EAS Master Beekeeper by teaching and guiding others. Demonstrate your technique and have others do the same, comparing your inspection with that of others. Enjoy your bees and learn from them. Hive inspection is a two-way communication between you and your bees that are trying to tell you something. Come to the EAS Master Beekeeper Field Exam prepared to show you 'know your stuff.'

Study Guide for Written Exam

The written exam will be composed of a variety of questions, i.e. true-false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, short essays, etc. The questions total 100 points and a passing grade is 85. You will have up to 4 hours to take the exam.

Applicants will be expected to show a reasonable command of the English language. Clear, direct, precise, full-sentence answers are best where appropriate. Handwriting should be readable. Spelling mistakes will not be downgraded but the intended word/meaning should be clear.

The written exam is developed and graded by the Master Beekeeper Advisor with assistance of Master Beekeepers.

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Study Guide for Laboratory Exam

In the laboratory examination, applicants will move from station to station where a variety of items, specimens and equipment associated with beekeeping will be displayed. Questions might include identification, context of use, relevant information about what is displayed (control for a disease, for example), and other pertinent information about the item. For example you might be asked what time of year a particular item would be used. Some stations may have only a photo or computer image. There is a four-hour time limit to take the laboratory exam. Passing grade is 85.

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EAS Master Beekeepers Certification Program
Reference List

Listed below are major references that will be used by the committee in preparing the written exam. We feel that the following books should be in the library of "Master Beekeepers" or they should have ready access since they are important and accurate references. This list, however, should not be considered complete. There are many other excellent written resources available to beekeepers.

Individuals preparing to take the exams are not expected to read all of the books listed here however, those wishing to taking the exam will find it helpful to have a working knowledge of the subject material represented by these texts.

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EAS Master Beekeepers Certification Program

The purpose of the Master Beekeeper certification program is to identify and certify people who have a detailed knowledge of honey bee biology, expertise in the proper practices of beekeeping, and can present this information to the beekeeping and non-beekeeping public in a detailed, accurate, clear and authoritative manner. The goal of this program is to certify that those who are awarded the Master Beekeepers Certificate are competent at a college level in the four areas where they are tested.

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Oral Exam Protocol

The EAS Master Beekeeper certification program is a rigorous, four part examination of a candidate’s knowledge of honey bees and beekeeping.    The Oral Exam portion of this testing looks at a candidate’s ability to communicate their knowledge of honey bees accurately and positively. Master Beekeepers are teachers and it is critical that they be able to “stand and deliver” under virtually any circumstance. They provide education and support for other beekeepers and serve their communities as experts in beekeeping.

In the Oral Exam,  the examiners create an environment that simulates real life for a Master Beekeeper. One part of the testing is to ask the candidate to prepare a presentation on a topic given to the  candidate on his or her acceptance into the program.  This tests the candidate’s ability to discuss beekeeping as they would to a town planning board, bee club, or other organization where they are able to prepare in advance.  In addition, the candidates are given three impromptu questions to answer during testing.  These questions are the type beekeepers are asked wherever they might go, including in front of a TV camera or during a radio interview.

Each MB candidate is tested by  a panel of three examiners. They have 5 minutes to give their prepared talk, with a few minutes after for follow up queries, simulating a “real” audience. Props such as posters, handouts, or computers with power point assistance are permissible and encouraged for this portion. In each of the three impromptu questions, the candidate is allowed 3 minutes for the answer.  The entire interview is recorded.

The examining panelists complete an evaluation form that weighs the potential new Master Beekeeper’s accuracy and completeness, delivery and presentation, ambassadorship, preparedness and listening skills. Each question is worth 25 points; the candidate must earn a score of 85 or higher from two of the three examiners in order to pass. Constructive comments as feedback complete the form, which candidates receive for their personal review when they receive their  test results later in the conference week.

The testing of a Master Beekeeper is a learning process whether the candidate is successful in passing or not.  It is not unusual for a candidate to pass only a portion of the four exams on the first try.

The Oral Exam is an opportunity to let a candidate’s knowledge and confidence shine. A Master Beekeeper will represent the beekeeping industry to the public and press, and bears a weight of responsibility to educate beekeepers and non-beekeepers alike  We have found the best way to prepare for the oral exam is by studying sample questions and practicing with fellow beekeepers. Here are two sample questions with suggested responses.:

Sample Question 1: You are a Master Beekeeper selling your hive products at a local farmer’s market. Booths on each side of you are full of perfect flowers and plants. A customer making a purchase from you compliments your products and identifies themselves as a member of a garden club. This person really wants to help honey bees, but is afraid that it means they will not be able to treat their carefully tended garden or fruit trees for pests or diseases. How can they do both?

In your 3-minute response you might point out how the neighbor should approach pest and disease control with some specific examples. Following labels and adjusting spay applications for pollinators are important to include in your response. Other points that might be included:

  • Treat only when necessary, when pests are seen in damaging amounts ~ don’t practice prophylactic treatments.
  • Follow pesticide label directions/don’t over treat.
  • Treat when bees aren’t flying (later in the day/early evening or after dark)
  •  Mow understory of fruit trees and between vegetable rows before spraying to remove any flowering plants/weeds that bees might visit.
  • Treat for diseases early in the season, before bloom attracts bees to the plant.
  • Explore options from companies that develop products that are safer for people and pollinators!
  • Don’t use long lasting treatments with residues that will remain in the soil

Sample question 2: From just about anyone, anywhere you go, when individuals learn you are a beekeeper they are likely to ask: “How are the bees doing?  Why are the bees sick/ dying? I keep hearing about this neonicotinoid chemical that is killing bees and maybe even leading to Colony Collapse Disorder.  It sounds like the experts have found the answer. What do you think?”

In a 3-minute response acknowledge the sincerity and importance of the question

  • Thank you for your interest in how the honey bees have been doing. Without our honey bees we would lose so much essential pollination of our fruits and vegetables.
  • We know some reasons that bees are sick/dying, such as diseases, mites and pests and nutrition/loss of forage. It seems there is no one single factor for their demise.

Since this question had multiple thoughts expressed it is important to try to respond to each of the points asked. As to the question about neonicotinoids and CCD you might say:

  • Pesticides in general and neonics in particular are much debated subjects. Some researchers suggest they have little effect on bees, while others suggest they have subtle sub-lethal effect. Evidence suggests a link between CCD and neonics, as well as a serious bee pest the varroa mite.
  • Suggest there are no definitive answers but studies are seeking to help us keep our bees healthy.

 “Engage with others and you will have no trouble engaging the 3-member panel on the EAS Oral Exam.”



 The EAS Oral Exam is about communication. How effectively can you pass your knowledge and bee skills on to another person? Once asked a question, take a few seconds to organize your thoughts, jot down the major points you want to cover and the supporting some bee facts you will use to weave an informative, forceful response in the allotted time. The time will fly by quickly. Seek to include an introductory sentence, your major points and a concluding sentence. Do not recite fact after fact but try to include relevant information that is appropriate for your audience. Present your comments in an interesting and engaging manner.

A good method to prepare is to ask a question of a beekeeper, say at your local association meeting, and listen to how they respond. Do this several times to different individuals and analyze which answers were more effective and, just as importantly, why they were effective responses. Volunteer to serve as respondent for a Question & Answer session at your local bee group or listen to those who do such Q&As. Seek feedback. If such opportunity is not available get some beekeeping friends together and organize your own session – respond to 4-5 questions (using the example questions above, adding others). and ask for feedback from those listeners. Repeat this – practice will give you confidence and the opportunity to sharpen your oral responses.

YOU MUST be fully prepared for the 5-minute presentation. The prepared talk must be complete in and of itself. It is NOT an introduction to or a segment of a longer talk. Practice this talk with an audience or in front of a mirror. Five minutes (300 seconds) goes by very fast. Have your visual aid(s) ready and use them. Keep it lively and interesting and DO NOT exceed the time allotted.

Practice getting several major points on each question across to listeners. Practice before friends, family members or in front of a mirror and time your comments. Jot down your major points and glance at them to stay on track. Avoid sidetracking, keep on topic and make what you want to say on the topic be of importance. Practice will make it better. Ask the listener(s) for feedback—did they understand your major points, did it make sense, did it answer the question? Engage with others and you will have no trouble engaging the 3-member panel on the EAS Oral Exam.


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