Provided by the Texas Apiary Inspection Service in association with the Texas Beekeepers Association, the Texas A&M Honey Bee Lab, and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the program is an educational program to help increase the knowledge and skill level of participating beekeepers.
TAIS Chief Apiary Inspector Mark Dykes said that the Texas program is modeled after the program that the University of Florida had established for its beekeepers. Dykes said that he thought of the idea after beekeeper Lance Wilson contacted Mr. Dykes and asked if the state had a master beekeeper program.
“I had worked with the Florida Master Beekeeper Program for 6 years before I came out to Texas, so I was very familiar with the program. We decided that using an existing format would make implementation of the program much easier,” Dykes said.
Dykes said that by producing highly knowledgeable beekeepers the program can help lead the industry and act as honey bee ambassadors to the general public.
Administered by the TAIS, the program is a five year minimum program that trains and certifies participants in the basics of beekeeping, as well as bee-related topics. To enter the program, Dykes said, that applicants must be a beekeeper Once admitted, the program has four levels of training and advancement: Apprentice Beekeeper, Advanced Beekeeper, Master Beekeeper, and Master Craftsman Beekeeper. He said that except for the Master Beekeeper levels, most take a minimum of one year, with the Master level taking two years.
Some of the topics the program offers to beekeepers includes new beekeeping techniques and equipment, potential problems and tips and tricks for maintaining their apiaries. The format consists of a review of the materials and a written and practical examination.
“I think programs like this one encourage beekeepers to expand their knowledge and become better beekeepers,” Dykes said.
He also added that a key part to the program is public service credits in which the beekeeper students have to present information about beekeeping to the public.
“This outreach becomes a force multiplier to our efforts by making program participants honey bee ambassadors,” he said. “This in turn helps the industry by spreading science and research based information about honey bees.”
For more information about the Texas Master Beekeeper program, visit the website at http://masterbeekeeper.tamu.edu.