Honey bee natural history and Biology

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

  • the external anatomy of the 
    • queen, 
    • worker and 
    • drone
  • The function and structure of the
    • wings
    • legs
    • antennae
    • sting
    • mouth parts and 
    • hairs
  • the metamorphosis of the larva with an outline account of 
    • ecdysis
    • larval defaecation 
    • cocoon spinning
    • the external anatomy of the pro-pupa
    • its change to a pupa and then to 
    • an imago
  • the alimentary system including the 
    • process of digestion by enzymes 
    • the absorption of products of digestion
    • assimilation of the products of digestion
  • the excretory system and the substances excreted;
  • the respiratory system, including 
    • the muscular ventilation of the air sacs
    • the structure and operation of the spiracles 
    • exchange of respiratory gases
  • the circulatory system, including
    • the heart 
    • dorsal and  ventral diaphragms 
    • the composition and functions of haemolymph
  • Distinguish between endocrine and exocrine glands
  • Distinguish between hormone and pheromone
  • The exocrine glands and the functions of their secretions particularly of the 
    • hypopharyngeal glands
    • the mandibular glands 
    • the wax glands
    • post cerebral (salivary gland)
    • thoracic (salivary glands)
    • nasonov gland  (pheromone)
    • tarsal Arnhart’s (pheromone)
    • sting glands, (pheromone)
    • Renner-Baumann glands
  • development of the bee throughout its life with regards to:
    • different sequence of tasks as the bee ages
    • glandular secretions controlling development of bees 
    • nutrition during these stages in the bee
  • the reproductive system of the 
    • queen and
    • drone 
  • the vestigial reproductive organs in the worker bee
  • the endocrine glands and the functions of their secretions
  • the nervous system and sense organs
  • sight and vision in the honeybee
  • the fat body and its storage of metabolites and other functions            
  • the reproductive system of queen and drone and the production of sperm and eggs
  • the structure of the egg, development of the embryo within the egg and the hatching of the larva;
  • the internal and external structure of the honeybee larva.
  • the physiological and structural differences between laying workers and normal workers and the role of pheromones in bringing about these differences;
  • the structure and main constituents of the cuticle with an outline account of its    invagination within the body to form linings of the gut and trachea;
  • the role of the direct and indirect muscles in flight
  • the difference between summer and winter bees as their physiology changes

Honey bee behaviour

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

  • orientation behaviour 
  • the mating behaviour of the honeybee queen and drone including an account of the pheromones involved and the concept of drone congregation areas
  • Challenges for the bee around mating
  • the queen honeybee’s egg laying behaviour and its relationship to
  • changing circumstances in the hive and external factors relating to climate and season
  • the change in pheromone throughout the lifetime of the queen and its effects
  • the use of honeybees in orchards and fields of seed crops with particular reference to honeybee behaviour
  • the behaviour of swarms 
  • the method of selection by the swarm of a site for a new home
  • Communication in the colony
    • scenting
    • pheromone
    • dances
    • thophallaxis
  • the colony in summer and winter with special reference to 
    • ventilation
    • humidity 
    • temperature control    

Honeybee diseases, pests, pathogens and poisoning

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

  • viruses and their detection
  • the life cycle of the Varroa mite
    • the signs and symptoms of Varroosis
    • methods of detection
    • approved treatment in Ireland and how to use them
    • subsequent problems that might arise;
  • Life cycle of:
    • small hive beetle and
    • Asian Hornet
    • their detection 
    • prevention
    • response by the beekeeper
  • the signs and symptoms of AFB and EFB and how they develop within the colony;
    • the life cycle of the causative organisms of AFB and EFB and the development within the larva;
    • the ways in which AFB and EFB are spread;
  • the statutory requirements relating to honeybee pests and diseases and their implementation in Ireland 
  • Notifiable diseases/pests  in the country
  • Causes, signs, symptoms and recommended treatment of
    • Addled Brood
    • Chalk Brood 
    • Sac Brood 
    • Stone Brood
  • the signs and symptoms (if any) and approved treatment, of all adult honeybee diseases found in Ireland
  • the laboratory diagnosis of 
    • Acarine
    • Nosema 
    • Amoeba diseases
  • the life cycle of Braula coeca and its effect on the colony
  • Vigilance regarding any possible dangers to colonies from outside
  • Knowledgeable considerations regarding the importation of bees

Apiary and honeybee management and history

The candidate shall be able to give a detailed account and draw illustrative diagrams where appropriate of

  • the quality of a colony for honey production
  • the nutritional value of honey to the honeybee colony
  • the techniques involved in overcoming problems associated with the extraction of 
    • ling heather honey 
    • oil seed rape honey
  • the properties of honey including
    • specific gravity
    • refractive index
    • viscosity 
    • hygroscopicity 
    • reactions to heat and aging
  • the process of honey granulation including factors that affect its
    • readiness to granulate 
    • crystal size 
    • texture of the final product
  • the main constituents and physical properties of beeswax
  • the history of beekeeping in Ireland and of leading contributions to the knowledge of the honeybee, honeybee practices and the use of the CDB hive;
  • Ancient Irish beekeeping and its interrelation with both agriculture and our ancient laws as can be seen in the Brehon Laws and in Becbretha.

Selection and breeding of Honey bees

The candidate shall be able to give a detailed account of: 

  • the races and strains of honeybee commonly used by beekeepers in Europe with particular reference to their 
    • appearance 
    • behavioural characteristics
    • honey/wax/propolis production differences
  • the importance of genetic qualities of the queen in breeding and raising new colonies
  • significance of drone genetics to the breeding and improving of colonies with desirable traits
  • Mendelian genetics, particularly the inheritance of one gene with two alleles and the concept of multiple alleles;
  • Diploid and haploid chromosomal occurrence in drones and worker bee
  • inheritance in the honeybee and of the evolution of the honeybee as a social insect
  • the genetic basis of sex determination in the honeybee including parthenogenesis
  • mitosis and meiosis showing an understanding of the unusual nature of meiosis in the development of the drone honeybee
  • “crossing over” and recombination during meiosis and its significance
  • Diploid drones and their significance
  • Supersisters how they arise and significance 
  • outline account of sperm and egg production
  • How a laying worker emerges
  • How a drone laying queen occurs
  • Spermatheca function
  • Polyandry and its advantages
  • Effect of hormones and pheromones in reproduction and development
  • Developmental timeline of the drone and queen in relation to: 
    • egg being laid
    • eggs being capped
    • emerging bees
    • ready to mate
    • passed mating potential and its significance to queen rearing and colony improvement
  • Role of Vitellogenin in the development of the bee and throughout its life
  • Role of Juvenile Hormone in the development of the bee

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