BBKA Basic Assessment

To take the Basic Assessment you should have managed at least one colony of bees for a minimum of 12 months. This is because the assessment covers the basic things which all beekeepers should know.

The Assessment consists of four parts. The pass mark is 50% in each part. The first part is a practical assessment and the other three parts involve oral questioning.

1 - The ability to handle bees and interpret what is observed.

Awareness of the care needed when handling bees, the reactions of bees to smoke, the equipment needed to open a colony of honey bees, the importance of cleanliness, the reasons for opening a hive, the need for food stores and the importance of record keeping. 

The Candidate should be able to open a hive carefully, be able to use a smoker and hive tool, lift frames from the hive and identify worker, drone and queen cells and comment on the state of the combs. Beekeepers should be able to identify the female castes and the drone, to identify brood at all stages, to demonstrate the difference between drone, worker and honey cappings, to identify stored nectar, honey and pollen to  collect a sample of worker bees in a match box, to state the number of worker bees required for an adult disease diagnosis sample, to demonstrate how to shake bees from a comb and how to look for signs of brood disease. 

The parts of a modern beehive, the concept of the bee space, to assemble a brood frame and fit it with wired wax foundation and to discuss spacing of the combs in the brood chamber and super for both foundation and drawn comb and methods used to achieve this spacing.

2 - Natural History and Beekeeping

An elementary account of the development of queens, workers and drones in the hive, the periods spent by the female castes and the drone in the four stages of their life (egg, larva, pupa and adult), the main local flora from which honey bees gather pollen and nectar, a simple definition of nectar and a simple description of how it is collected, brought back to the hive and is converted into honey.

A simple description of the collection and use of pollen, water and propolis in the hive, an elementary description of the way in which the honey bee colony passes the winter, an elementary description of how to set up an apiary, description of the precautions that should be taken to avoid the bees being a nuisance to neighbours and livestock, the possible effects of honey bee stings on humans and suitable first aid treatments, an elementary description of the annual cycle of work in the apiary.

Description of the preparation of sugar syrup and how and when to feed bees, the need to add supers and the timing of doing so, the dangers of robbing and how robbing can be avoided, a method used to clear honey bees from supers, the process of extracting honey from combs and a method of straining and bottling of honey suitable for a small scale beekeeper, including hygiene, awareness of the various web based resources relating to beekeeping such as BBKA and Beebase.

3 - Swarming, Swarm Control and Effects

An elementary description of swarming in a honey bee colony, an elementary account of one method of swarm control, how to take a swarm and how to hive it, the signs of a queenless colony and how to test if a colony is queenless, the signs of laying workers and of a drone laying queen, description of a simple method of queen introduction and descrition of one method of uniting colonies together with precautions to be taken.

4 - Diseases & Pests

The appearance of healthy brood, sealed and unsealed, the reasons for good apiary hygiene, awareness of the reasons for regular brood comb replacement, description of the signs of the bacterial diseases American Foul Brood (AFB) and European Foul Brood (EFB), the fungal disease Chalk Brood and the viral disease Sac brood, description of methods for detecting and monitoring the presence of varroa (a mite) and description of its effect on the colony including awareness of the effect of associated viruses, awareness of acarine (a mite) and nosema (a fungus) and their effect upon the colony.

Description of ways of controlling varroa using integrated pest management techniques, awareness of the current legislation regarding notifiable diseases and pests of honey bees, awareness of who to contact to verify disease and advise on treatment, description of how comb can be stored to prevent wax moth damage and description of how mice and other pests can be excluded from the hives in winter.

Assessment Booking

If you want to ask questions about the assessments, or enquire about booking an assessment please contact:

Terry Payne on 01747 811251 or email or use the form on the Contact page.


North Dorset Beekeepers Association, Shillingstone, Blandford Forum, DT11 0SF

Registered Charity Number 1193201    |    © Copyright MMXXIV. All rights reserved.

Policy Documents

Webmaster Alexander Bishop-Frey

We need your consent to load the translations

We use a third-party service to translate the website content that may collect data about your activity. Please review the details and accept the service to view the translations.