Apprentice Certification

Applications for the Apprentice Level in 2023 will open November 30


  • Must own/manage a minimum of one colony for at least one year prior to testing.
  • Must have at least one registered hive.
  • Meet the registration requirement where possible (certain counties do not allow beekeeping, or do not offer registration service to beekeepers) at BeeWhere .

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

Program Content

Required Text:

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 based on the Apprentice level study guide and consists of multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and matching questions. Exam opens on the 2nd Saturday in September and closes after 48 hours. Once the exam is opened, you have 2 hours to complete it. 

Practical Field Exams: 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 are responsible for bringing their own protective gear, but all other equipment is provided by the program.  In person practical field exams are held at Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility (UC Davis campus) and other CAMBP Satellite Hubs in Orange County, Los Angeles County and Northern California (Humboldt County). Candidates are assigned a 25 minute time slot for a one-on-one exam with an examiner. In-person examinations are COVID compliant. Learners may choose to submit YouTube video footage for assessment or perform their practical skills exam over Zoom where possible. 

Exam fee ($250): Includes the Apprentice Level Study Guide, CAMBP staff office hours, certificate of merit, CAMBP Apprentice Level pin, and access to the Journey level materials in the membership portal. All in-person and online classes are extra. 

Passing score is 80% on both written and practical exams.  Candidates are notified of their written exam score prior to their practical field exam. Candidates can retake the online written exam for a fee of $50 prior to the practical exam.

 2023 Apprentice Level applications open November 30