Did you know that Oregon offers a robust training program that guides beekeepers through the basics to advanced levels? If not, you need to know about the Oregon Master Beekeepers Program.
A collaboration between the Oregon State University and the Oregon State Beekeepers Association, the core components of the program are mentorship, scholarship, and practical experience. Rigorous requirements at each stage ensure that Apprentice, Journey, and Master Beekeepers are steeped in the essential knowledge to be successful at each stage of development as a beekeeper.
Ruby began the program in 2018 as a “Getting Started” student – so she participated in the educational programs and took the written exam, but was not matched with a mentor until 2019. That year, she completed a number of experiences with her mentors and demonstrated practical skills “in the bees.” She officially completed the Apprentice Requirements in December of 2019 and is currently working on the Journey requirements.
The Journey and Master levels feature self-directed study, so the intermediate and advanced beekeeper can devise their own topics for research within a field of relevant areas. Ruby has completed all twelve guided study documents (2-3 pages of short answers on various beekeeping topics) required for the Journey certification. She recently passed the written exam, comprised of multiple choice and short answer questions, as well as several short essays. Ruby was so proud to submit her meticulous hive inspection records, showing that she has been continuously managing honey bees for more than three years.
Journey students are required to perform public service, such as education and outreach, serving on pollinator-related boards, media features about your apiary, assisting participants in the Master beekeeper program, and mentoring other beekeepers. Ruby has already earned half of the required points, simply by continuing to perform the community service activities she is so passionate about, like serving as Secretary for non-profit Pollinator Project Rogue Valley.
After earning the remainder of her service points, Ruby will undertake a practical exam with a live bee hive to show that she knows how to inspect a hive properly, and she will also participate in a lab exam to demonstrate her ability to identify bee diseases and grade/assess the quality of honey. This exam is usually held in mid-summer, and she may need to travel to Corvalis to take the exam.