If Honey Bees Fascinate You, Think About Becoming a CAMBP Certified Apprentice Assistant

If honey bees fascinate you, you might want to take the first step toward becoming affiliated with the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) by applying online to become an apprentice assistant.

Applications close Jan. 30.

Apprentice assistant is the first level of the trainer programs offered by CAMBP), launched and directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Other levels are apprenticejourney and master

What does an apprentice assistant do?

As the website says: "The apprentice assistant level of the CAMBP explores the art and skill of beekeeping prior to keeping bees, even if you live in an area where beekeeping is not possible. This level of the CAMBP is the perfect science-based introduction to everything you need to know in order to keep safe, healthy bees. If you cannot keep bees at your location, and want an ‘in-hive' experience, the CAMBP can recommend options.  The CAMBP requires 10 hours of volunteer service and 12 hours of continuing education each year so members maintain and expand their beekeeping knowledge and skills."

On the application form, you'll be asked:

  • What inspires you to learn more about honey bees and beekeeping? 
  • Do you currently keep bees?
  • Are you a member of a local bee club?
  • What, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge facing bees and beekeeping today?
  • Are you capable of performing 10 hours of volunteer service and 12 hours of continuing education on bees and beekeeping as an apprentice assistant in your first year in the CAMBP?

The cost to enroll in the class is $50. At the onset, accepted students will receive links to three live, online study halls, facilitated by CAMBP staff, to meet other new beekeepers and ask questions in preparation for the tests, which will be administered in person or virtually via Zoom (depending on COVID-19 restrictions.)

The class officially starts in March, according to program manager Wendy Mather, with final exams scheduled for September. Students must score at least 80 percent to become an official apprentice assistant. They then will have access to the CAMBP member network; webinars; and CAMPB member news. And if they wish, they can apply for the next level, apprentice.

"One cool factor about apprentice assistant is if you decide that beekeeping isn't for you, you still get a certificate stating you've passed the 'theory' portion of the course if you choose only to write the online exam and satisfy your curiosity about humanity's only sweet treat purveying insect," Mather said. "It's not mandatory to get into a hive." 

More information is available on the apprentice assistant website or contact camasterbee@gmail.com.