Friday, August 10, 2012

Lesson 122: How I Became A Certified Master Beekeeper 217-427-2678

DavidMBHi we are David & Sheri Burns of Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Thanks for joining us today! People are always asking me how I became a master beekeeper, how long did it take and how they can do it. So, I decided to answer those questions.
Before we do, let me remiond you about our WINTER-B-KIND candy boards. We are Home of the Original Winter-B-Kind.
Last fall we introduced our Winter-B-Kind after several years of studying overwintering hives. We could barely keep up with production they were in such demand. So many beekeepers told us that these were the only thing that got their hives through the winter.  Now it's time to order your Winter-B-Kind. WHAT IS A WINTER-B-KIND?
It is a one piece candy board that provides food, ventilation, upper insulation and an upper exit/entrance to help bees remain healthier during the winter. Someone said it insulates, ventilates and feed-i-lates. With the built in upper vent, you don't have to worry about snow covering up your hive's lower entrance.
You can place our Winter-B-Kinds on your hive anytime, even in the winter. It goes on top of the hive in place of the inner cover. It can be placed on the hive in cold weather. Just do it fast. Open the top, remove the inner cover and place the candy side down and the vent slot toward the front of the hive and you're done.
Let me answer the most common questions people ask about becoming a master beekeeper.
There are several places to be tested and certified as master beekeeper. Why did you choose the Eastern Apicultural Society?
I chose what appeared to me to be the most challenging and longest running master beekeeper program. The EAS master beekeeper certification was started by Dr. Roger A. Morse of Cornell University. Therefore, it is the grandfather of all programs. EAS took over the testing after Roger Morse passed away.
What motivated you to become a master beekeeper?
I found that I was writing about bees more and teaching more classes. Therefore, I wanted something that would stretch me to learn. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have more credibility behind your name, showing people that you have put the time in to learn as much as you can about bees.
How long did you have to study and prepare for the testing?
When people ask this question, I tell them I studied for 15 years. It’s true. Though I was not specifically studying for the test  back then, I was tested on my years of accumulated knowledge and experience. I did cram for the tests about 2 hours a day for 2 years. You never know what you’ll be tested on so you have to KNOW (not memorize) just about everything to do with bees and beekeeping.
Where do I go to take the tests?
Each year the EAS holds its annual conference and the MB certification program is held in conjunction with this conference. I am looking forward to being at the EAS conference next week, August 13-17 in Vermont. I love the EAS conference and if you have never gone, you can plan to go. Walk-ins are allowed, so come on out to Vermont. Also, those who follow these lessons but have never met me, I expect you to find me at EAS and introduce yourself, please. The website for EAS is:
What is the testing like?
EAS certification tests are given in 4 sections. 1) Field test 2) Oral test 3) Written test and 4) Lab test.  The specifics of each section will be answered later below. The tests are given in conjunction with the EAS yearly convention. You must score an 80 or higher to pass.
How much does it cost?
Taking the test for the first time is $100 and to retake a section the following year is $25. Once you complete one section  you do not have to repeat that section. Next year, you simply pay and retake the section you did not pass.
However, the actual cost for me each year cost much more than the testing fees. I paid around $2000.00 each year in hotel costs, airline tickets, conference fees. I also bought $1400 in recommended beekeeping books and materials. For example, I bought a microscope to help me become familiar with pests and diseases. In the lab test, you will be identifying things under microscopes.  Though I do not treat my hives with medication, I bought medication and became familiar with how to apply it. I remember in the lab test there was a small container with the label off and we were to identify the name of the medication and its use.
Can I read a few books and be properly prepare?
EAS MB program does have a list of recommended reading, but remember you will be tested on things not always found in a few books. You MUST know bees and equipment used in large and small operations. As a master beekeeper applicant you will be showing that you know your stuff.
What qualifications must I meet to be tested?
A minimum of 5 years as a serious beekeeper in some aspect of apiary management such as a very dedicated hobbyist, a commercial beekeeper, working for a commercial beekeeper or as an apiary inspector.
It is not required, but it is helpful if you have completed the equivalent of a college level course in beekeeping. You should be well read in apicultural literature, not just bees. You may be tested on pollination and crops pollinated by honey bees.
You must have a letter of nomination supporting you as you seek Master Beekeeper Certification. This letter may be written by a current master beekeeper, professional beekeeping specialist or current president of a local, state or regional beekeeping organization you’ve known for a while.  The letter can be submitted with the application or can be sent separately but must be received by the application deadline. EAS has an application deadline of July 1st of each year prior to the conference.
Can I receive copies of previous written tests?
Yes, most applicants review previous tests. However, the tests are different each year. Questions on previous tests may or may not bee on future tests. But viewing previous test helps the applicant become familiar with how questions are asked and the answers that are desired.
Of the orals, written, field and lab tests which was the most challenging?
This is different according to each applicant. Most people tell me the lab is the hardest. I loved the lab!  I found the written test to be the hardest. Though they are not designed to be trick questions, if any part of the question is false, then the answer is false. So you do have to read each question carefully. Some people cannot pass the oral test the first try. You must have very strong communication skills because as a MB you will be on the news and in front of cameras answering hard questions. An MB is expected to shine, speak positively and represent beekeeping with superb knowledge and charisma.
I served last year as an oral tester with three others. You sit in front of a panel and have 3 minutes to answer questions and role play with us.  I remember taking my oral test and it was VERY intimidating!
What is lab test like?
You’ll have 20-30 stations set up that you must go to and answer questions. Some stations may be actual frames of American Foul Brood and European Foul Brood, and it could be on the same frame. You will not only have to identify what you see, but tell whether it is a bacteria or fungus and if it can be treated and what medication to use and how to administer it.
There may be equipment pieces at the stations that you’ve never seen. I’ve observed applicants staring at things and they have no idea what they are.
I love to talk about bees. Will I do well on the oral test?
Oral testing is more than simply answering questions in front of others. You are graded on accuracy, completeness and delivery of your answer. You will also be graded on your ability to hear the question accurately so you can answer it correctly. Your listening skills must be sharp.
Is the field test intimidating?
IMG_3693If you are comfortable working hives, the field test should go well. I helped test applicants last year and they were calm and relaxed. Again, you must tell the tester what you see, what you are finding in the hive and you must be prepared to identify possible pest and diseases in the hive as you work it. You must talk about the condition of the hive as you work it, is there enough food, brood, and identify the queen, some drones etc. You must show that you can master your smoker.
What’s the written test like?
The written test consist of true and false, multiple choice, fill in the blank and short essay questions. To me, it is very challenging.
To give you an example, one of the questions on my test was : Describe the Demaree Technique and explain what it is used for. (5 points). That question alone was worth 5 point out of 80!
If I pass all four sections, when do they present me with my certificate and pin?
lesson79fPassing all four sections entitles you to be rewarded the certification of EAS master beekeeper. The EAS banquet on Friday night following the conference is a huge event. At the banquet you will be called to the stage and awarded your certificate and pin.
MBPINAs EAS certified master beekeepers we are very proud of what we have accomplished. We put in our time working bees, studying, talking with others, attending conferences, reading and spending lots of time and money learning about and working bees.  It is a very rewarding moment to achieve this feather in your hat.
For more complete info on the EAS master beekeeper program, go to:
I would highly recommend more beekeepers start working on a master beekeeper certification. I’m partial to EAS but you might find a different successful program you like.
Check out some of our more popular lessons:
-How to harvest honey
-Wax moths
That’s all for now and thank for joining us for another beekeeping lesson!
Please let others know about these lessons and our business. We appreciate you spreading the word!
TipJarYour donations helps us continue our work and research on the honey bee, such as our recent development of our Winter-Bee-Kind. These lessons are free and will provide you with as much if not more information than you would find in a $30 book. So consider making a $30 donation so that we might continue these lessons, CLICK HERE TO DONATE $30 or go to:
Thank you in advance.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
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