The following is a comprehensive syllabus. The student should consult it in conjunction with the on-site list of questions taken from previous examination papers: testing oneself against the examination questions will give a good idea of how one’s study is progressing and how much of the syllabus has been adequately covered in preparation for the real examination.

Honeybee natural history and Biology

The candidate shall be able to give an account of and draw illustrative diagrams where appropriate of:

  • metamorphosis in each caste of the honey bee including the number of days spent in each stage of the development from egg to larva, to pupa, to emergence of the adult;
  • the structure and segmentation of the exoskeleton;
  • the function of each caste in the life of the colony;
  • the structure and function of the alimentary, excretory, circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems;
  • the exocrine glands of the three castes and their secretions including the hypopharyngeal, mandibular, Nasonov, sting, salivary and wax glands;
  • the structure and function of mouthparts, legs, antennae, sting and wings of each caste;
  • caste differentiation in female honey bees particularly with respect to feeding;
  • queen substance and its influence on the production of queen cells;
  • parthenogenesis and the mating behaviour of the honey bee queen and drone;
  • the importance of multiple mating of the queen in honey bee biology;
  • the importance of pheromones, including queen substance, Nasonov pheromone and alarm pheromones in the organisation of a honey bee colony;
  • methods of communication used by honey bees including dances, food sharing and scenting.

Apiary and honeybee management

The candidate shall be able to give an account of and draw illustrative diagrams where appropriate of: 

  • the reasons why good hygiene is important in beekeeping and which chemicals are useful in apiary management;
  • the management of colonies for the production of comb honey (sections and cut-comb);
  • the methods of swarm control which are suitable in an apiary of up to 10 hives;
  • the methods of monitoring and maintaining the health of colonies.

Honeybee diseases, pests, pathogens and poisoning

The candidate shall be able to give an account of and draw illustrative diagrams where appropriate of: 

  • the statutory requirements relating to foul brood, Varroosis and the importation of honey bees and their implementation in Ireland;
  • the life cycle of the causative organisms of AFB and EFB and their development within the larvae;
  • the difference between the signs of AFB and EFB;
  • the life cycle and natural history of Varroosis including its development within the colony, how it spreads and how it may be treated;
  • the signs of Small Hive Beetle infestation, how it spreads, methods of detection, monitoring and treatment;
  • the cause, signs and recommended treatment (if any) of the following brood diseases and conditions – Chalk brood, Sac brood, Chilled brood, Neglected drone brood;
  • the cause, signs, and treatment (if any) of adult bee diseases; Nosema, Dysentery, Acarine, Amoeba and Chronic Bee Paralysis;
  • the laboratory methods of diagnosis of Acarine, Nosema and Amoeba disease in worker honey bees;
  • the life cycle of Braula coeca and a description of the differences between the adult form and

Honeybee products, forage, plants and pollination

The candidate shall be able to give an account of and draw illustrative diagrams where appropriate of: 

  • the processes of pollination and fertilisation in a typical flowering plant;
  • the genetic and evolutionary importance of cross-pollination, the importance of Mendel’s research in this sphere and the methods used by plants to favour cross-pollination;
  • the composition of nectar and its variations and the effect of differing weather conditions;
  • how worker honey bees process nectar into honey;
  • the approximate composition of an average honey;
  • the physical properties of honey including its mineral content, specific gravity, viscosity, hygroscopicity, reaction to heat and HMF content;
  • the process of granulation and the process of fermentation of honey;
  • methods of determining the moisture content of honey;
  • how Sir Arthur Dobbs’(Carrickfergus) studies into forager behaviour showed that honey bees are flower-faithful;
  • the origins and typical composition of honeydew with a brief description of the characteristics of honeydew honey;
  • the main constituents and physical properties of beeswax.

Adapted from the original syllabus devised by Prof. Breandán Ó Cochláin