By Carolyn Breece, Oregon State University
The Oregon Master Beekeeper program is a long-term, in-depth educational program for beekeepers of all levels of experience. After 2 years of planning and consulting with the Washington State Master Beekeeper program, the Oregon Master Beekeeper program officially began in January 2012. Similar to the Washington Master Beekeeper program, there are 3 successive levels: Apprentice, Journey, and Master. The beginning level, Apprentice Beekeeper, emphasizes handson training. We match each Apprentice student with a mentor in their area. The student and mentor work together at the hive to complete 4 field experience checklists, which include tasks such as identifying the queen, supering for honey production, and managing varroa mites. The Apprentice must also earn education points, keep a log of hive management activity for one year, and pass an open-book exam. We hoped for 50 students enrolling at the Apprentice Beekeeper level for our first year. Instead, we enrolled 140 students and had about 30 more on our waiting list. As of November 2012, we have 33 Certified Apprentice Beekeepers. Most students will apply for certification in spring 2013, when they have one year’s worth of log entries and all fi eld experience checklists have been completed.
In January 2013, we will launch the intermediate level: the Journey Beekeeper level. This level incorporates advanced training in honey bees and beekeeping as well as a community service component, similar to that of Washington Master Beekeeper. Journey Beekeepers must earn education points, service points, submit responses to Directed Study questions, pass a written exam, pass a practical exam (which includes a hive inspection), and keep a log for a minimum of 3 years. The Journey Beekeeper also needs to own a hive at this point.
More information about the Oregon Master Beekeeper program may be found on our website: www.oregonmasterbeekeeper.org Interested individuals may apply for the Apprentice Beekeeper level online. Apprentice and Journey students can use the website to record points earned and manage their progress online.
We are grateful for the support and advice from the Washington State Master Beekeeper Program and we are thrilled to hear of new Master Beekeeper programs popping up around the west. The recent, dramatic increase in beekeeping makes educational programs necessary for the health and maintenance of honey bee colonies.