How to Become a California Master Beekeeper

So you want to become a California Master Beekeeper.


You can begin the process by registering on the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) website, announced program director and California Extension Apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.

Go to  Applications are due May 1. Those accepted into the program will be notified by June 1. 

Niño introduced the 40 new apprentice-level graduates, Class of 2017, at the fourth annual UC Davis Bee Symposium, held recently in the UC Davis Conference Center.

The 40 Master Beekeepers join the 56 members of the Class of 2016.

The program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. Members of the program serve as knowledgeable ambassadors  who disseminate science-based information about the importance of honey bees, preserving bee health, and responsible beekeeping.

The members of the Class of 2017 are Jesse Adcock, Heather Angeloff, Alyssa Beth Archambault, David Barbosa, Ornella Bonamassa, Max Boyce, Christopher Brennan, Cathy Carlson, Michael Conroy, Elisabeth Eschelbeck, Gerhard Eschelbeck, Yee-Yie Fogarty, Nanette Herbuveaux, Sandy Honigsberg, Russell Hudyma, Christine Jeffries, Nancy J. Johnson, Carolyn Jordan, Jesus Llamas, Meike Maag, Joel MacPherson, Shannon Marie Ciortea, Roberto Martinez, Jennifer Matthews, Cherry Mattias, Kourtney McGrath, Robert Meyer, Jeffrey Michaels, Chitra Mojtabai, Andres Molina, Holly Nelson, Sara Ramsey, Donald H. P. Sexton II, Rob Slay, Melody Wallace, Nicholas Wigle, Christine Wilson, John Winzler, German Yegorov, and Karen von Gargen.

CAMBP is about giving back to the community and becoming a better beekeeper and mentor, said Niño, who is based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The Master Beekeepers engage in community outreach, communicate with a growing network of fellow master beekeepers, and receive discounts to classes offered by UC Davis Extension Apiculture and Honey and Pollination Center,

Bernardo Niño, the founding program coordinator of CAMBP, congratulated the Class of 2017 and presented each with a pin. New program manager is Master Beekeeper Wendy Mather of El Dorado Hills.  Bernardo Niño who recently accepted a position as head of bee research and development at UBEES Inc., an organization headquartered in New York City. Bernardo will be based in Davis area. He will continue to work with CAMBP as the educational advisor. 

CAMBP recently received a four-year UC ANR grant of $199,949. “We are expanding geographically to include the Fresno/Madera area (Shannon Mueller, Fresno County Extension director and agronomy farm advisor) and the San Diego area (James Bethke, farm advisor and Jennifer Pelham, area environmental horticulture advisor), said Elina Niño, the principal investigator of the grant, "The California Master Beekeeper Program: Development of a Continuous Train-the-Trainer Education Effort for California Beekeepers."

"Honey bees are arguably the most important managed pollinator and are used as the primary pollinator for over 30 crops in California many of which are considered specialty crops such as almonds," wrote Niño in her successful grant application. "Therefore, the food security of our state and our nation depends largely on robust and healthy honey bee populations. However, in recent years, U.S. beekeepers have been reporting annual colony losses of up to 45 percent. These losses are attributed to many pathogens and pests associated with bees, as well as pesticide exposure and lack of access to plentiful and diverse forage."

"Colony losses have also prompted those who have never kept bees before to try their hand at beekeeping in an effort to help honey bee conservation," she pointed out. "Currently, in California there are an estimated 11,000 backyard and small-scale beekeepers, with many of them belonging to one of 35 beekeeper associations within the state. While these associations often serve as hubs of information transfer, the information provided is not always accurate or supported by research findings. Considering the importance of California to the US agriculture and the fact that almost 80 percent of the U.S. colonies start their pollination and honey production routes in almonds, it is clear that there is an urgent need to develop a comprehensive, science-based, and state-wide apiculture curriculum."

Niño noted that "Development of these educational opportunities will help minimize potentially disastrous consequences, such as increased pest and pathogen transfer or spread of Africanized bees which are considered a public-health risk, due to lack of understanding of proper honey bee husbandry. To fulfill this need we established the first-ever California Master Beekeeper Program which provides California-centric, contemporary, research-based training in apiculture."

Overseeing the California Master Beekeeper Program is an advisory committee comprised of UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisers, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology research staff, UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center staff, California beekeepers, and other apiculture specialists.