British Beekeepers Association


British Beekeepers Association

Topic: General Husbandry - level of detail required?

17th May 2015 at 8:47am

Simon Rice
Bishops Stortford

29 posts - View

As far my understanding goes the GH and AH examinations are designed to be practical examinations in the main, but also have sections of the syllabus where verbal answers are required during the course of the exam. This can follow a range of topics such as natural history, honey regulations, etc. My question is what level of detail is required in an answer? No clues in the syllabus, that I can see. I took the basic a few years ago, as a "late starter", having kept bees 20+ years and was surprised the level of detail the examiner was searching for.

Could anyone advise me. I've not taken any modules although have looked at some of the past papers. Is the level of detail required comparable to the module questions?
17th May 2015 at 9:40am


5736 posts - View

Hi Simon, welcome to the forum.

I passed the General a few years ago - As you point out, it's intended as a practical test more than the written modules which are sometimes just a memory game, sadly. My take on it is that good general knowledge of beekeeping is required rather than knowing the scientific names and being able to describe where an epithelial cell is located, for example. You'll be able to demonstrate practical beekeeping and queen-raising in your own apiary; I was asked to demonstrate an artificial swarm with empty boxes (in a shed as it was raining for part of the day) and I was quizzed about honey labelling, amongst other things; and most importantly disease where you should be able to recognise and describe diseases well.

You are correct that the basic is wide-ranging; however it's relatively easy to pass.
17th May 2015 at 8:16pm

Simon Rice
Bishops Stortford

29 posts - View

Thanks Adam for passing on your knowledge.

May I ask another related question. Again no clues in the syllabus. A Bailey Comb Change (BCC) for a weak colony? How does that differ from the BCC described in Bee Base? Using drawn comb perhaps, rather than just foundation?
18th May 2015 at 11:09am

Gerry Collins

535 posts - View

Bailey comb change to transfer bees from combs contaminated with Nosema spores onto clean comb

Extra Equipment needed:  Clean brood chamber with some clean frames (preferably of clean drawn comb) , 2 dummy boards, eke with entrance,  clean floor, contact feeder + surround (or frame feeder)

Find queen and place the frame (with her on) into clean broodchamber (identify this frame eg spot of marking paint or drawing pin) . Add a frame or two of clean drawn comb on either side of this and use a dummy board to restrict her to those combs (as colony probably weak ) Use sterile drawn comb, if available, as infected colonies not good at drawing comb. Gentle manipulation required at all times as you don’t want to stress the bees as  they may defaecate and leave Nosema spores on the clean combs you have just given them.

Remove all unoccupied outer combs from original BC and use dummy board to tighten frames  in the BC. Reassemble colony with original BC on floor, queen excluder, an eke with entrance facing forwards, clean brood chamber with queen, clean crown board and  roof. Combs in upper clean BC should be directly above those in lower BC

The colony will need feeding with heavy syrup. They are too weak to come away from the cluster to use a rapid feeder so use either a contact feeder  (which will need a empty super or eke to surround it) or a frame feeder. Close original front entrance so all fliers enter and leave via new upper entrance

Once queen is laying on adjacent new combs transfer the marked frame in top BC to bottom BC. Once all the brood in bottom box emerged, remove it.  Gently shake off the bees from it and its frames so that they join the rest of the colony and rearrange colony onto a clean floor. As the colony expands then give them more combs (foundation should be OK now) as and when required moving the dummy board  along to accommodate them (similar to building a nucleus up).

Discussion points:

What to do with old combs ( fumigate with 80% acetic acid or destroy depending what state they are in?)

As the queen may be infected with Nosema  she can be replaced when mated queens are available later in the year.

Last edited at 4:04pm on the 18th May by Gerry Collins

18th May 2015 at 12:24pm

Simon Rice
Bishops Stortford

29 posts - View

Thanks Gerry. That's really helpful.