Texas Master Beekeeper Program Graduates First Class of Apprentice Beekeepers

group of Apprentice Beekeepers

The first group of Apprentice Beekeepers. Submitted photo.

BRENHAM, Texas — Sixty-eight beekeepers around the state are now getting closer to becoming Master Beekeepers as the Texas Master Beekeeper Program recently held its exam day for the Apprentice Beekeeper level at the Washington County Fairgrounds on March 27th.

The day-long event was the first time the testing was administered in Texas. The Texas Master Beekeeper Program (TMBP) consists of 4 levels (Apprentice, Advanced, Master, and Master Craftsman). The day was divided into a review session in the morning and then a written and practical exam in the afternoon.

Mark Dykes speaking to beekeepers

Texas Apiary Inspection Service Chief Apiary Inspector Mark Dykes speaking to beekeepers during the review session before the exam

Mr. Dykes, Chief Apiary Inspector and TMBP board member, said that the review session in the morning was not a replacement for the training materials that are studied beforehand.

“This review session is not designed to be the only study needed to pass the exam and is more to reinforce what the participants should have already learned,” he said.

The exam included a practical, hands-on section with the hives and other equipment where the participants are tested on their skills in bee husbandry and practical beekeeping while the written portion tested the students’ knowledge of various beekeeping topics.

Once the students pass the exam, they are required to complete five public service credits in addition to their studies before they take the next level’s exam. The credits could come from such events as hosting bee-related lectures/workshops to non-beekeeping groups, holding an office in a local beekeeping association, or assisting members of a youth organization with project work.

“The Apprentice Beekeepers act as bee ambassadors to the non-beekeeper public,” he said. This in turn becomes a force multiplier for our educational efforts.”

“The Texas Master Beekeeper Program is designed to push beekeepers to become more informed in all areas of beekeeping (i.e. biology, ecology, husbandry, etc.) Education is mostly through self-study of required and suggested materials,” he said. “We hope, as the program develops, to provide many more educational opportunities for program participants”

Dykes was very pleased with the turnout and was excited about the future of the program.

“We were very happy with the turnout of the first class,” Dykes said. “Being a new program you never know how it’s going to go but the beekeepers were very interested in the program. We had 68 people test and we currently have over 200 people on the mailing list. Good numbers for a new program I think.”

For more information about the Texas Master Beekeeper program, visit the website at http://masterbeekeeper.tamu.edu.

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