Apprentice Level

Next Apprentice Level application deadline: January 31, 2021


  • Must own/manage a minimum of one colony for at least one year prior to testing.
  • Must have at least one registered hive where possible (certain counties do not have the ability to provide this service to the beekeepers; this will be confirmed prior to acceptance into the program).

Expectations and Goals:
Upon completion, Apprentice Level beekeepers will be able to:

  • Light and appropriately operate a smoker
  • Identify different casts in the colony
  • Open and examine a colony
  • Properly manage the colony throughout the year
  • Be able to identify and take care of any issues that the colony encounters
  • Identify and build/assemble standard hive equipment
  • Be able to properly feed colonies if needed
  • Prevent colony robbing
  • Monitor for pathogens and pests
  • Re-queen a colony

Effective 2021, to maintain an active status in the program, individuals will be responsible for 10 Beneficial Education Experiences (BEEs) per year. The following activities are pre-approved for satisfying Apprentice Level CAMBP BEEs requirements:

  • Presenting a bee-related lecture or workshop to non-beekeeping group (youth or adult).
  • Holding office in a local beekeeping association.
  • Assisting members of youth organizations (4-H, Scouts, FFA), etc. with a bee-related project.
  • Successfully mentoring a new beekeeper through at least one season.
  • Giving a public demonstration on beekeeping topic at fair, festival or similar public event.
  • Swarm removal.
  • Social media support/online mentoring of new beekeepers 

Program Content
Required Text:

  • First Lessons in Beekeeping – Keith Delaplane (2007) Available via: Dadant (
  • CAMBP Study Guide – E.L. Niño and B.D. Niño

Supplemental Reading (not required, but strong educational information):

  • The Beekeeper’s Handbook, 4th Edition – Diana Sammataro, Alphonse Avitabile, Dewey M. Caron (2011)

Knowledge of the Following Topics Required:

  • Honey Bee Biology (Delaplane chapter 1 & 2)
  • Species and Races of Honey bees (Also, Sammataro Pgs. 3-8)
  • Characteristics and Individuals in the Hive
  • Development
  • Behavior
  • Communication
  • Morphology
  • Immunity

Anatomy of the Hive (Delaplane chapter 3); (Also, Sammataro chapter 3)

  • Apiary Selection and Orientation
  • Hive Components
  • Essential Beekeeping Equipment
  • Useful beekeeping equipment
  • Other Hives types

Starting and Managing Your Hives (Delaplane chapter 4)

  • Obtaining Honey Bees
  • Inspecting the Hive
  • Seasonal Management

Products of the Hive (Delaplane chapter 5 & 6); (Also, Sammataro chapter 12)

  • Honey
  • Wax
  • Bee Venom
  • Royal Jelly
  • Pollen
  • Propolis

Common Maladies of the Hive (Delaplane chapter 8)

  • Diseases
  • American Foulbrood
  • European Foulbrood
  • Chalkbrood
  • Nosemosis
  • Various viruses (please note, with advances in technology, new viruses are continually being identified)
  • Parasites and Pests
  • Varroa mites
  • Tracheal mites
  • Small Hive Beetle
  • Wax moths
  • Ants

Basic Honey Bee IPM (Working Your Colonies class/CAMBP Study Guide)

  • Colony Losses
  • Cultural Control
  • Mechanical Control
  • Biological Control
  • Chemical Control

Recommended Reading:

  • Honey Bees and Beekeeping: A Year in the Life of an Apiary, 3rd Edition – Keith Delaplane (2007)
  • Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping – Dewey Caron (2013)
  • First Lessons in Beekeeping – Keith Delaplane (2007)
  • The Backyard Beekeeper, Revised and Updated: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden – Kim Flottum (2010)
  • The Beekeeper’s Handbook, 4th Edition – Diana Sammataro, Alphonse Avitabile, Dewey M. Caron (2011)
  • Recommended Periodicals:
  • American Bee Journal (
  • Bee Culture (
  • Bee Culture's Beekeeping - First 3 Years 
  • 2 Million Blossoms (

Some Recommended Internet Resources:

Online Exam Format: Candidates have 2 hours to complete the online exam which consists of multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and matching questions. No outside materials allowed during the online exam. 

Practical Field Exams will take place at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility located on 1 Bee Biology Rd., Davis, CA 95618 (UC Davis campus). Additional exam locations include Southern California (San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles County), and in future will include Central California (Fresno/Madera Counties), and Northern California (Humboldt County). Candidates will be assigned a 25 minute time slot for a one-on-one exam with an examiner. The exam may include, but it is not limited to, identification of hive parts, tools, diseases/pests of honey bees, different castes, inspection of a colony, and bee marking. Candidates will be responsible for bringing their own protective gear, but all other equipment will be provided by the program. 

Exam fee ($250): Includes the Apprentice Level Study Guide, live online Q & A Study Hall events, certificate of merit and CAMBP Apprentice Level pin. All E. L. Niño Bee Lab courses are extra. 

To pass, candidates must receive a score of 75% or higher on both written and practical exams.  Candidates will be notified of their written exam score before taking their practical. Candidates that do not pass the online exam may do a retake for a fee of $50 prior to their practical.

Click here to apply for the 2021 Apprentice Level of the CAMBP!