Lab Exam

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.

The major coverage areas will be:

  • Bee diseases: A Master Beekeeper should be able to identify bee diseases as well as a qualified apiary inspector. It is expected he/she will be able to make a field and/or lab identification of the following: American foulbrood, European foulbrood, sacbrood, nosema, chalkbrood, and chilled brood. A master beekeeper is also expected to correctly identify mixed syndromes such as Bee PMS and CCD and vectors of diseases (varroa mites for example.) Expect several questions on diseases or hive mimics of disease conditions (dysentery for example). Candidates should be familiar with various disease and pest control products and management techniques, even if the products are not used in the candidate’s own operation.
  • Bee pests, parasites, and predators: It is expected that a Master Beekeeper can identify damage by wax moths, small hive beetle, mice and other mammals, bears, pollen mites, minor hive pests, etc., plus have the ability to distinguish the problems caused by pests from those caused by disease/pesticides. Also Master Beekeepers should know reasonable and/or effective controls where applicable for the more serious diseases and pests.
  • Honey and Bee Products: An applicant should know the basics of when and how products are obtained by the bees and when and how and what beekeepers use to harvest them. Standards used in judging of honey and bee products and how beekeepers may negatively affect quality may be included. Understand basics of ripening, storage and harvesting of honey and bee products.
  • Recognition of beekeeping equipment: A great variety of gadgets, implements and hive furniture have been developed. Some of these are valuable implements and useful in specific instances but some are not. It is not expected that a Master Beekeeper would be familiar with all the possible equipment and tools but they should know the major items, what purpose they may serve or facilitate and any special virtues/issues they might have. Approximate costs should be known for the basic hive and accessories.
  • Queen rearing: Applicants should be able to indicate the proper age larva for grafting and to recognize the basic procedure used by bees and beekeepers to produce new queen(s). Additionally, they should be familiar with the various tools beekeepers use in queen rearing.
  • Plants for bees: Identification of minor local honey plants will not be required. However, applicants should be familiar with the major plants bees pollinate as well as major plants useful to yield surplus honey.



Candidates should be familiar with common diseases, pests, unhealthy bees, and unhealthy colony conditions and know about emerging disease/pest issues. You might shadow a bee inspector, if one is available in your area, or a commercial beekeeper for a day to see diseases and unhealthy conditions or arrange for some special tutoring in their office/lab. Examples of disease on the test may be 'fresh' (taken from a colony within the last couple of days) or may be removed from a freezer. You should know characteristics of both. In five years (minimum of experience required of a candidate for EAS Master Beekeeper), you will not likely see all the diseases bees may contract so you have to be sure you do see and experience them.

Another major test emphasis is on bee equipment. You should review carefully one or more of the free bee supply catalogues to get an idea of what is available, specialty equipment uses and how much items cost in a general sense (It may have been awhile since you have purchased equipment of your own.) Cruse the vendors at a major meeting and ask questions about equipment. Building your own equipment is a great way to gain understanding of equipment. Questions are not merely on identification but might also include use (where, when, how and why). Do not neglect the specialty items that some beekeepers like to use and the 'newest,' most practical gadgets being used by some (feeder/winter moisture reducer rims, feeders, shims and spacers, top bar & Warré hives, queen rearing implements, propolis collectors, etc).

The honey bee is but one social insect. Master beekeepers must know and be able to differentiate/recognize the other bees and close wasp relatives and insect look-alikes sometimes confused for a bee (such as flower fly) or sometimes found in a beehive. Know basics of honey bees' and related insects' nests and diseases. Know distinguishing characteristics of the other honey bees (i.e major species of Apis) and how to differentiate them from Apis mellifera. Know the basic bee races, where they were originally found and the major pro and cons of bee races in common use today.

We harvest a number of products from honey bees, not just honey. For the principle product honey, know what constitutes quality and how beekeepers may negatively influence final preparation for sale or home use. Know and recognize preparation and uses of the other products and services of honey bees, such as propolis or pollination. An opportunity to judge a honey show or shadow a honey show judge could be a useful preparation.



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