Master Beekeeper Program

The  N.C. Master Beekeeper Program (MBP) was designed by Dr John Ambrose and established in the fall of 1982.  Its purpose is to provide an infrastructure whereby beekeepers can improve their beekeeping skills and knowledge on a continuous basis within a system that objectively and formally acknowledges those accomplishments.  It also serves as a means of providing valuable information to beekeepers and the public through various outreach services.

Prior to 2011, the Master Beekeeper Program was run through Dr. David Tarpy of North Carolina State University. NCSU and the NC Extension Office provided about $80,000 for this program. With the severe financial cutbacks in the NC state budget, the Master Beekeeper Program run by Dr. Tarpy was terminated. Because of the importance of the program to beekeepers, NCSBA agreed to pick up this program.

The NCSBA created a new MBP committee. The committee is mainly composed of Master beekeepers to help with the Journeyman, Master and Master Craftsman programs, including testing, grading and reporting the results. Additionally, the MBP Committee keeps a database for all levels of the program, and is responsible for issuing the proper certificates for each level and obtaining the medallion and name tag for the Master and Master Craftsman levels.

Any resident of N.C. with an interest in bees is invited to participate in this program.  Non-residents who have an interest in bees may also participate; however, all of the educational offerings in support of the program as well as all of the testing are conducted within North Carolina. Anyone wishing to participate in the NCSBA Master Beekeeper Program must be a member of the NCSBA.

The Master Beekeeper Program of the NCSBA consists of 4 levels: the Certified Beekeepers level, the Journeyman Beekeeper level, the Master Beekeeper level, and the Master Craftsman Beekeeper level.

Requirements summary for each level:

Certified Beekeeper: Entry level for the program
  • a written test
  • a practical test (involves manipulating a hive of bees)
Journeyman Beekeeper: A beekeeper who has demonstrated good beekeeping skills and knowledge
  • a written test
  • a practical test (oral identification of various tools, objects, and pictures relating to honey bee biology and beekeeping)
  • two years of beekeeping experience
  • 5 units of public service credit

NCSBA Journeyman Beekeeper Study Guide

Service Credit Form for Journeyman

Master Beekeeper: A beekeeper who has demonstrated extensive expertise in beekeeping and a number of specialized areas in beekeeping
  • a written test
  • a practical test (demonstrate excellence in selected beekeeping specialties)
  • 3 years of beekeeping experience
  • 10 units of public service credits

NCSBA Master Beekeeper Study Guide

Master Craftsman Beekeeper: The highest level of the program composed of Master Beekeepers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, public and media interactions, a substantial commitment to beekeepers and beekeeping, and who have passed an oral examination.  The Master Craftsman designation is awarded for five year active appointments and then the individual is moved into an emeritus appointment unless recertified by earning an additional 15 units of public service credit and demonstrating that they have kept current on matters affecting bees and beekeeping.
  • an oral examination (comparable to the oral exam for a student in a Master of Science program at a university)
  • two years as a Master Beekeeper
  • present a program at a state bee meeting
  • demonstrate communication skills
  • practical test (demonstrate excellence in a minimum of seven required beekeeping specialty areas)
  • participate in an NCSU sponsored research project
  • earn 15 units of public service credits
  • recertification every 5 years to maintain “active” status