Apprentice Level

Basic Qualifications:

  • Beekeepers trying to become an Apprentice Beekeeper should have one to two years experience owning and working honey bees. 
  • The honey bees must have been registered for 1 year with the Alabama Department of Agriculture. 
  • Being a member of the Alabama Beekeepers Association is also required.

Objectives for Testing of Apprentice Level:

Parts of the Hive

  • Identify the components of a hive using proper nomenclature.
  • Identify the location of the hive components and the reason for the specific location.
  • Be prepared to discuss the reason, pros, or cons for the variety of hive components in Bee Supply catalogs (ie. Solid versus Screened Bottom Board, Slatted Racks, Migratory versus Telescoping Covers, etc.)


  • Know the process of how honey is made.
  • Relay the steps of Harvesting Honey
  • Discuss the different methods of extraction (“crush and strain”, extractor, drip…)
  • Identify the differences between creamed honey, crystallized honey
  • Explain the difference of local honey and “store bought” honey
  • Discuss the moisture content of honey and what it means specifically

Honey Bee Anatomy

  • Identify and label the external parts of a honey bee.
  • Understand and explain the functions of each caste and what each caste does for the hive.
  • Discuss the society of the honey bee using proper nomenclature and how that affects bee anatomy.

The Hive as a Colony

  • Discuss all aspects of swarming including the following
    • Pheromones
    • Various jobs of the worker bee
    • Reasons for swarming
  • Discuss the placement of the cluster, food, brood, etc. in a hive
  • Identify the various jobs that the worker bees perform.
  • Discuss what it means to be a social insect and the difference between solidary insects (include the reason honey bees are classified as Eusocial insects specifically.
  • Explain the importance of Pheromones including
    • Nasanov
    • Queen Mandibular
    • Brood
  • In general, discuss the idea of the colony being a super-organism

Practical Application: This is the hands on part

Beehive Equipment

  • Identifying using proper nomenclature beehive equipment
  • Defining what the equipment is used for in detail

Hive Inspections

  • Lighting and maintaining a lit smoker
  • Proper opening of the actual hive
  • Identifying the worker, queen, and drones in a hive
  • Identify burr comb, drone comb,
  • Identify pests or disease in the hive

Testing Requirements:

Must score a 70% or higher on each subject (block) of the examination.*

Must score 70% or higher on Both practical examinations (Hive Inspections and Beehive Equipment.**

 * The written test includes, but is not limited to beekeeping classes and materials provided from references on Apprentice reading list along with class lectures.

**The practical exam can include, but is not limited to: describing the physical parts of a beehive; igniting and properly using a smoker; recognizing the various stages of brood, differentiating castes, and finding (or least describing) the Queen; differentiating between brood, pollen, and capped honey cells; recognizing propolis and describing its functions; and describing the layout of the brood nest (placement of honey, pollen, and brood), etc..

NOTE – All questions on the exams may not be covered in the classes. It is important that your experience as a beekeeper become evident during this symposium. Experience is what you have learned by keeping bees and what you have gleaned from reading.