Open Source Beekeeping Certification

The variety between Master Beekeeper programs can be so diverse as to be ridiculous. At one end is a program that is essentially a college degree in and of itself.

At the other end are programs in which a person takes a test, online or on paper, that is essentially a information regurgitation dump and if passed, one is “certified” the same as the previous.

Ultimately, this wide divergence makes the whole thing ridiculous and irrelevant.

However, there can be value in having something to show that one has demonstrated and learned information to the point of mastery. A third party certification can be useful in professional endeavors.

However, one shouldn’t need to spend hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars to attain that certification. The information is what it has always been. New research adds to that and can be included in an updated, generally available schedule.

There is the potential for a relatively inexpensive testing and skills demonstration based certification that does not require sucking up to a group of elitists or paying out the nose for something that needn’t be so.

It should be consistent across the board and give opportunity to anyone wishing to attempt to do so.

Using the model provided by CNG Farming and its Apiary certification section as a general basis, it is possible to take an online test for knowledge and submission of documentation showing successful demonstration of skills to attain beekeeping certification.

If you can demonstrate knowledge and that you have the skills , there shouldn’t be a society parade or one-upsmanship about which prestigious or not prestigious place one attained certification from.

That is only desired by those who use said certification as a wall decoration and bragging point.

Keep coming back and we’ll continue to flesh out this self driven and achieved beekeeping certification program that focuses on actual useful knowledge and demonstrated skills.

The goal is to provide a certification solution based on your needs and required outcomes. The knowledge testing will be able to be completed online, scored and reported in a way that is set against open and objective standards.

In other words, you’ll be able to know what is tested, what the scoring requirements are and see for yourself if you met the necessary number of correct answers to pass. Anyone will be able to see the requirements information.

The demonstrated skills will be a matter of having any current Master Beekeeper from any program or any two not Master Beekeepers observe your demonstration, answer specific questions about how successfully you completed said skill, and submitting the observation form to the website to be added to the accumulated total of your certification requirements.

Once all tests have been successfully passed and all skills have been successfully documented and submitted, the certification will be listed on the website.

There will likely be minimal fees for testing and processing documentation to help pay for the web hosted site and service(s) pursuant to the process.

A membership will be available, but not mandatory for those successfully achieving certification. The membership creates, at minimum, a network of recognized peers to help continue making the certification process available and to provide a listing for those seeking certified beekeepers to be local observers for them.

Homestead Beekeeping, Beekeeping With A Purpose

There are various purposes for beekeeping. Commercial beekeeping, which largely focuses on crop pollination and large scale honey production, and hobby beekeeping which is a typically local and personal scale mostly focused on honey production for personal satisfaction.

In between those are are “sideliner” micro or small business types and “homestead” beekeeping which could be seen as a variant of sideliner, but more personal.

I’ll focus on homestead beekeeping in this post because it pertains most and most closely to craft/trade beekeeping observed most familiarly throughout history. what is now referred to as “homestead” beekeeping is the same as those people who lived the “beekeeping life much as a carpenter or blacksmith spent their entire lives working with bees and products of the hive to make a variety of items used not only in their own homes but as products to trade and sell in their community.

These are the people who went beyond honey, pollination, and beeswax candles. These folks refined all of those things and added soaps, health and beauty products like beeswax skin creams, lip balms, and propolis toothpaste, and tinctures.

They are a specialist in animal husbandry, a unique apothecary, and artisan all rolled in one. The honey, beeswax, pollen, and propolis they collect are used to make healthcare items, artistic crafts, housewares, and foodstuffs. They benefit their own and neighboring gardens, small farms, and orchards with pollination.

These are people who engage in trade, barter, and direct sales with the myriad of things they make from their bee hives harvest. They know about markets and marketing. They are experienced salespeople and neighbors who always come bearing gifts and useful things to trade.

They take a professional approach to apiculture, making the most of every aspect of it. They live and breathe beekeeping and every aspect of it. Often they become experts in one or more aspects of their craft.

I engage in apiculture this way and I train others to become apiarist as well. It is my goal to bring others into the small and unique craft of apiculture that has come down to us, becoming more refined and more well studied over what is literally centuries.

I think it’s great that more people are interested in beekeeping as a hobby. I think it’s important that we have enough people involved in commercial beekeeping as well. However, I think it’s a special calling and dedicated person that is one of the very few craft/trade Masters of what can be called “Homestead” beekeeping.

2020 Apprenticeships

The apicultual apprenticeships beginning in 2020 are designed to be a two (2) year program. The only costs associated to be an apprentice are those to obtain one’s own equipment, tools, gear, materials, etc… as needed ongoing.

Accepted apprentices will not only engage in scheduled apiary duties, but attend scheduled classes and workshops as assigned as well, at no extra cost for registration except for materials costs, as they apply.

Apprenticeships for 2020 will be selected by March 1, 2020 and begin activities immediately. Please submit your registration by January 31 to be considered for selection.

Most activities and classes will be held on Saturdays anytime between 9am and 5pm, as scheduled. Be prepared to give up your Saturdays to the bees. Treat it like a new job, it is work that needs to be done and if you aren’t serious about seeing that work done,and doing it right, please consider registering for an apprenticeship only if you are really able to follow through with it’s requirements.

Veterans are welcomed, encouraged, and given priority to participate if they are able to.

Please begin by filling out the form on the “Join The Team” page.

Apiculture Vs Beekeeping – A Practical Distinction

If you look up the definition of “Apiculture”, the most common distinction you’ll see is that many consider it a large scale of beekeeping or commercial beekeeping. I share that only to a certain degree though.

Apiculture, historically, is akin to many other types of animal husbandry. Cattle ranching, sheep, horses, even ostriches. Yes, most ranching operations are commercial endeavors with a goal of selling animals for use in the food industry or even to include other industries which use other parts of animals not eaten. However, animal husbandry isn’t limited to food operations. Many horse and other ranchers provide anial breeding and training for anything from racing to riding to therapeutic purposes.

Ultimately though, the operation is the same. It all involves the total or holistic experience of raising healthy animals (or insects) for a purpose and everything that is involved in that.

I teach Apicullture which includes beekeeping, which I teach as a hobbyist activity specific to a limited number of hives and the bees in them in small scale, and generally individual oriented outcomes. Beekeeping is apiculture, but apiculture is more than beekeeping.

Apicutlure includes not only direct care of and for bees and the hives they are kept in, but includes proper management of the environment in which they are kept and forage in. It includes building fences, growing or being involved in what is growing in the foragable area they operate in. It includes knowledge of the bees, the pests they deal with, the hive stands, the pesticides used around them, the harvest of the hive, the methods and tools used in working the hives and much more.

I manage apiaries for clients to provide specific results. To provide a harvest of honey and wax from the hive. To provide pollination of plants that benfit from and provide benefit to bees. To provide traaining and education to those interested in beekeeping and apiculture as well as to the general public to grow awareness. To provide therapeutic experiences for those with special needs such as PTSD, autism, and other concerns.

Beekeepers as hobbyists come to learn methods, techniques and basic knowledge of working with bees that will fulfil personal interests. However, as a professional apiarist, I must manage an fully operational apiary to meet all the expectations of the client including the land management, hive and apiary equiment maintenance, bee colony care, tracking, seeing to Personal Protection Equipment, and much more that is involved in the total operations of an operational apiary.

That then is what I teach Apicultural apprentices as they assist in the tasks of those operations. Of course they will take those skills and knowledge to benefit their own hobbyist beekeeping efforts, but that will only be one part of their total gained experience and knowledge.

The common definitions which describe apiaculture as large scale, commercial beekeeping, I think, do an injustice to apiculture. An operational apiary can have as few as two hives in it and as many as dozens, hundreds or thousands (as part of a multi-apiary endeavor). The critical point is hthat it is operational. There are goals and objectives relating to expected outcomes of the apiary. Often, a professional apiarist may be working on behalf of a client or employer and doesn’t actually own the apiary, hives, or the bees they work with. They may be a volunteer helping a school or non-profit organization and not even be paid to do what they do, as is their choice., though it should not be expected.

So, as I teach and practice it, apiculture is not so much about the number of bees or hives one has, but the total operational objective and results of having bees to meet specified goals.It is everything that goes into it, even those things which may not seem related or obvious at first glance. Simply put, apiculture is bee ranching.