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Bees – Intermediate Beekeeping Course

The Intermediate Course in beekeeping builds on the knowledge gained from the Preliminary Course and improves the understanding of both the scientific and practical aspects of beekeeping. It consists of three parts; Scientific, Practical and Apiary Practical, delivered over a period of at least two years and leading to the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations (FIBKA) Intermediate Certificate of Proficiency in Beekeeping. 

The Scientific and Practical parts each consist of 15 ‘winter’ evening classroom sessions, delivered in alternative years. The Practical part was delivered and will be delivered again in will be confirmed. The Scientific part will be delivered in due course.

The Ulster Beekeepers’ Association (UBKA) will deliver the Scientific part of this Intermediate level course at CAFRE Greenmount Campus Co. Antrim; Comber Co. Down; Dromore Co. Down; and Enniskillen Campus Co. Fermanagh, starting in September.

Who is the course for? 

Holders of the FIBKA Preliminary Beekeeping certificate (or equivalent) who wish to increase their knowledge, understanding and practical skills in beekeeping.

Those applying should be aware that independent study is essential in addition to attending classes and apiary workshops.

Course Content 

Practical: Natural History of the Honeybee, Nectar and Honey, Forage Plants and Pollination, Diseases, Pests and Pathogens, Apiary and Honeybee Management, Hive Products and their Preparation for Show and Sale. (15 evenings).

Scientific: The External Anatomy and Internal Feature of the Honeybee, its life cycle, the work done, methods of communication, reproduction, brood and  adult bee diseases, pollination, honey and swarming (15 evenings).

Apiary Practical: Candidates are recommended to refer to thedetail of the Apiary Practical syllabus on the FIBKA website and to use every opportunity to attend teaching and training sessions offered by UBKA and Local Associations where techniques such as colony assessment, disease identification and treatment, queen rearing, nucleus production, swarm control, apiary and honeybee management etc. will be covered.

The syllabus is available here


There is a three-hour written exam at the end of both the Scientific and Practical years. The Apiary Practical Assessment will be held in the candidate’s own apiary. There is no written exam and the candidate is examined orally and practically by two examiners. An important feature is the examination of three years hive records for each candidate. 

The Intermediate Apiary practical can also stand on its own as a step towards the Practical Bee-master Certificatefor those not wishing to take all three hour written examinations. For those planning to progress to the Senior Certificate it is a step towards completing the Apiary Practical part of the Senior Certificate.

The Intermediate Certificate will be awarded only when all three examinations have been passed.

The winter evening classroom sessions for the Scientific and Practical parts of the Intermediate Course are normally offered at several locations throughout Northern Ireland and details of locations, the course cost and application process for delivery of the Practical part in and will be available during summer.

Course Cost 

£140 for each of the Practical and Scientific years. Costs for the Apiary Practical course are to be confirmed by the UBKA.

To discuss the syllabus and confirm dates arranged for the Intermediate Scientific classes contact the Course Tutor for the centre of your choice and if you need to discuss in more detail contact Intermediate Course Convener Patrick Lundy: or Tel:028 9756 3165.


Bees – Preliminary Beekeeper’s Course

Preliminary Beekeeping Courses are organised and delivered by local Beekeeping Associations affiliated to the Ulster Beekeepers’ Association (UBKA) at a range of venues around Northern Ireland.


A practical and informative course over 10 evenings providing the necessary knowledge and skills to get established in beekeeping.

Who is the course for? 

People with an interest in, or who may be thinking about keeping bees.

Course Content

  • Manipulation of a colony of honeybees.
  • Understanding the construction and siting of hives and colonies.
  • Natural history of the honeybee and colony structure.
  • Examination of the colonies cyclical calendar.
  • Examination of colony diseases and signs of poisoning.
  • Harvesting the colony.

This course has both theoretical and practical sessions and provides the opportunity of achieving a Preliminary Certificate of Proficiency in Beekeeping awarded by the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations. The minimum age for candidates participating in these courses is 16 years old.

The course runs for ten evenings, one per week, normally commencing in January/February.

Library News


  • Why bees become aggressive?. A study designed to try to identify why some honey bees are more aggressive than others found that neuropeptides in the brains could be the source of aggressiveness. More information on:
  • Learning and memory of bees.A study from Royal Holloway University of London has confirmed that pesticides used in crop protection have a significant negative impact on the learning and memory abilities of bees. More information on:
  • Ireland’s genetic treasure.Based on both the mitochondrial and microsatellite results, Ireland is home to a significant pure population of m. mellifera. This population is comprised of bees that show clear linkages with European bees, particularly from France the Netherlands and the UK, and another group of bees that show distinct “Irish” microsatellite alleles and mitochondrial haplotypes. Together this data indicates a diverse population that does not suffer from inbreeding nor does it suffer from introgression from C lineages despite the continued imports and breeding of non Irish bees in Ireland. The presence of such a widespread and pure population of A. m. melliferain Ireland is now an incredibly important resource for the protection of this subspecies in Europe. Given the devastating impacts of varroa from introduced bees on this population, particularly on wild bees, efforts should be increased to prevent any impact on this subspecies from introductions of pests and diseases due to the continued imports of non Irish bees. More information on: