Oral Exam

Oral Exam

Oral Exam Protocol

The Master Beekeeper (MB) program seeks to certify beekeepers qualified to represent the beekeeping industry to the public and the press as well as to educate other beekeepers. The MB Oral examination is designed to test a candidate’s ability to speak about beekeeping concisely, accurately and in a positive manner.

A passing grade is 85. Each examiner grades the applicant independently.  Two of the three independent scores must be 85 or higher. The three independent scores are then averaged to obtain the final grade. The oral examination takes about an hour


The candidate sits with a panel of three EAS Master Beekeepers (or other bee experts) who ask a series of three or four questions that might be asked when dealing with a beekeeper, press representative, town official, farmer or perhaps a concerned neighbor. The candidate is given a certain amount of time to answer the question – generally a few minutes. The timing is discussed at the beginning of the testing session and a timekeeper reminds the candidate when time is short. The three examiners grade the candidate's responses based on the following criteria:

  • Accuracy and completeness: Are all statements true? Was the question answered completely?
  • Delivery: How poised and comfortable does the candidate appear to be? Is the answer clear and to the point? Is the answer logically presented? Does the candidate represent beekeeping in a positive way?
  • Listening skills: Has the candidate answered the question which was asked? Did the answer address the questioner’s concerns? Was the candidate able to clarify any ambiguities?


The candidate must also prepare, in advance of the conference, a 5-minute talk on a topic he or she will be assigned following acceptance of his or her candidacy. The use of aids such as Power Point slides, photographs, equipment, etc., is permitted and encouraged. The candidate should be careful to bring everything that will be needed for the presentation. A computer projector may not be available but is not required. The presentation must be complete in and of itself. A five-minute segment of a longer talk is not acceptable.


These are examples of some of the question which have been or might be asked on the oral examination:

  • You get a call from a beekeeper in the next town. She says, “ I went down to my bees yesterday. The fall foliage is so beautiful! I was feeling great until I noticed this awful smell coming from the hives. The bees were very busy and seem so active but I know some diseases, like AFB, smell really bad. Do you think my bees have AFB?”

  • You have been asked to testify in front of Hopeless Township’s Board of Health. They have met to consider the complaints of a lady who wants beekeeping banned as a public health hazard. She claims there are so many bees in the grass of her backyard that her husband can’t mow the lawn without getting stung. And she’s afraid the bees in the pool might sting her granddaughter when she goes swimming. The little girl might be allergic!

  • Your state beekeeping association has been asked by the Department of Agriculture to develop a protocol for dealing with Africanized Honey Bees, which are now present in the state just south of yours. You are chairing the committee. What would be some of the most important things to include in the protocol?



 The EAS Oral Exam is about communication. How effectively can you pass your knowledge and bee skills on to another person? Once asked a question, take a few seconds to organize your thoughts, jot down the major points you want to cover and the supporting some bee facts you will use to weave an informative, forceful response in the allotted time. The time will fly by quickly. Seek to include an introductory sentence, your major points and a concluding sentence. Do not recite fact after fact but try to include relevant information that is appropriate for your audience. Present your comments in an interesting and engaging manner.

A good method to prepare is to ask a question of a beekeeper, say at your local association meeting, and listen to how they respond. Do this several times to different individuals and analyze which answers were more effective and, just as importantly, why they were effective responses. Volunteer to serve as respondent for a Question & Answer session at your local bee group or listen to those who do such Q&As. Seek feedback. If such opportunity is not available get some beekeeping friends together and organize your own session – respond to 4-5 questions (using the example questions above, adding others). and ask for feedback from those listeners. Repeat this – practice will give you confidence and the opportunity to sharpen your oral responses.

YOU MUST be fully prepared for the 5-minute presentation. The prepared talk must be complete in and of itself. It is NOT an introduction to or a segment of a longer talk. Practice this talk with an audience or in front of a mirror. Five minutes (300 seconds) goes by very fast. Have your visual aid(s) ready and use them. Keep it lively and interesting and DO NOT exceed the time allotted.

Practice getting several major points on each question across to listeners. Practice before friends, family members or in front of a mirror and time your comments. Jot down your major points and glance at them to stay on track. Avoid sidetracking, keep on topic and make what you want to say on the topic be of importance. Practice will make it better. Ask the listener(s) for feedback—did they understand your major points, did it make sense, did it answer the question? Engage with others and you will have no trouble engaging the 3-member panel on the EAS Oral Exam.


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