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Introduction to the Examinations Board

The BBKA Examinations System provides a range of practical assessments and written examinations to members culminating in the Master Beekeeping Certificate.  The Examinations Board operates independently of the Executive Committee and maintains the quality and standards of the examination system.  

There are 9 elected members of the Board with voting rights These are expected to have attained the Master Beekeeper Certificate of the BBKA Examination System There are also 4 officers on the Board, the Examinations Board Secretary, the Moderator and two assistant moderators without voting rights. Each Area Association has a local Examinations Secretary who co-ordinates exam entries and organises the Basic Assessments and the venue and invigilator for the module examinations.

The Examination Board meets formally four times each year.  The Board considers issues of budget, examination and assessment management, syllabus revisions and assessor training.  Syllabii are revised on a rotational basis when they are adjusted to keep abreast of current developments or to improve the content.  Although the Board is not bound by ADM proposals, improvements to the examination system often come from members suggestions.   

Sub-groups of the Board meet to discuss topics and prepare recommendations for Board approval.   In April the Board appoints examiners for the written module exams and assessors for the higher assessments.  These examinations are organised by the Examinations Board Secretary.  New assessors are trained each year.  Assessors are all qualified to the level above the assessment.  Module examiners are Master Beekeepers.

About the BBKA Exam board


Nicky Campbell - Exam Board Secretary 


I have recently started the post of Exams Secretary for the BBKA. I’ve been a beekeeper for five years and keep between three and five colonies in suburban Sheffield. I am a member of Sheffield Beekeepers Association where I have served on the committee as Chair and Event Secretary. I have taken three of the module exams and I loved the experience and would recommend them. I love being involved in the process of providing these amazing learning experiences to beekeepers in the form of both written exams and practical assessments. I enjoy my role keeping the exams running smoothly and answering queries that come in about the exams and assessments. Its great to be able to help people and to talk to lots of other lovely beekeepers. As well as beekeeping I am a keen cook and long distance runner, two things that often go hand in hand. The prize for honey cake at my local honey show continues to elude me though. I am looking forward to talking to many of you over the coming years. Especially if you have top tips for honey cake.


Sean Stephenson, has been a Master Beekeeper since 2013 and is currently Chairman of Buckinghamshire BKA. He has been an Assistant Module Moderator on the Exam Board since 2018. This position involves, amongst other things, moderating the preparation of the Module exam papers as well as their marking. As this role is an appointment of by the Exam Board rather than a nomination at the BBKA ADM Sean is a non-voting member of the Exam Board


Shirley Bond

I started beekeeping in 2010 and took the Basic Assessment in 2011.
From the beginning I was keen to learn more. As I continued on my journey my beekeeping improved and became much more enjoyable. In 2017 having passed all the modules and Advanced Husbandry I became a Master Beekeeper. I was first elected to the exam board in January 2018 and have just been re-elected. I have helped with the revision of the Microscopy and Show Judge syllabi. In addition I set and mark modules and am also an assessor for the Basic and General Husbandry practicals.
I have been involved in beekeeping education for several years and run courses from starting out with beekeeping to advanced candle making techniques and microscopy. My aim with all teaching is to encourage people to find out more and to further their enjoyment of the craft. I enjoy showing and am currently working towards obtaining my Show Judge award.
I keep about 20 colonies, many of which are moved to take advantage of the heather on the moors about 40 miles from home. I also manage 14 colonies for my local association, where we endeavour to raise sufficient nucleus colonies to provide bees for all the new beekeepers we train.



Julie Coleman

I started beekeeping in 1998 when a swarm arrived in my garden.  A local beekeeper hived it for me, donated the hive and left it and the bees in my vegetable plot, where they stayed until the following winter and were a great inconvenience to the whole family.  I joined the local branch and was taken under the wing of a marvellous bee farmer who mentored me for a couple of seasons, taking me around with him to help with inspecting 120 colonies.  I attended a beginner’s course, then held at the local Further Education College and after another 2- or 3-years practical experience I started through the examination system starting with the Basic Assessment.  I completed all the BBKA exams in 2017 to become a master beekeeper and applied and was elected to the Exam Board the following January.

I worked as a research Microbiologist for most of my career, then retrained as a teacher/lecturer for the final 8 years and worked in FE colleges and as a University lecturer teaching adults.

I retired in 2015 and have since increased the number of hives I manage to around 20 and have become more involved in BBKA and Kent beekeeping activities, especially in education, running beginners and intermediate courses and module study groups.  I am an examiner for the Basic, General Husbandry and Honeybee Health assessments.  I have written module exam scripts and helped to revise the Microscopy assessment, among other duties overseen by the Exam board.

I enjoy contributing to beekeeping education as there are always new challenges and new things to learn.  This is true especially now when we are restricted in what we can safely do and are being encouraged to do things differently to enable members to continue with their learning.




Stuart Roberts is a BBKA Master Beekeeper having kept bees for 11 years. He has five out-apiary locations using his home base as a swarm isolation apiary. He predominantly uses 14x12 brood boxes and some nationals. In his diverse apiary locations he encounters oil seed rape and heather and rears his own queens.  In his spare time, he enjoys learning new things and passed his Advanced Husbandry Certificate in 2018 which gave him Master Beekeeper status. He also was elected to the BBKA Examination Board in 2019 and has just completed his first year in the role working mainly on the Show Judge Certificate syllabus and portfolio.

Stuart has been a member of South Staffordshire & District Beekeepers Association since 2009 and has been actively involved in the running of the club since 2011 currently holding the roles of President and Education Coordinator. He is also an active member of Solihull beekeepers which is a branch of Warwickshire beekeepers. He is part of the team that deliver their beginner training and has recently helped deliver a 2 day microscopy course.

He is passionate about passing on his knowledge and wants to be involved in beekeeper training and beekeeper training strategy at a national level. He also gets invited to speak at other associations and has written several published articles in the BBKA news, BBKA special editions and the Beekeeper's Quarterly. He is currently studying towards the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB).


Marin Anastasov, NDB

I started beekeeping in 1992 and developed my initial beekeeping knowledge and skills while I was studying towards a BSc in Animal Science. Later, I completed an MSc in Organic Farming at Aberdeen University. 

I am passionate about sustainable food production and my entire working career has been in organic food and farming. My day job involves training and development of farming operations in 35 different countries, so they can meet the required standards for organic food production. Working with farmers and growers around the world has allowed me to experience beekeeping practices in different countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and America.

I currently manage 30 colonies in Gloucestershire in 3 apiaries. The main objective of my beekeeping is honey production, but I also find working with bees rather relaxing after a busy day at work. I rear all my own queens, as well as few extra for sale to other beekeepers. To manage the quality of the mating I use instrumental insemination for those destined to be the breeder queens. 

In 2014, I became a Master Beekeeper and since, I have taken an active part in all areas of the BBKA examination system, both setting Module papers as well as conducting practical exams from the Basic to the Advanced Husbandry. In 2017, I gained the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB), which is the highest beekeeping qualification awarded in the UK. 

I have served on the BBKA Examinations Board since 2016 and in that time I co-authored and led the implementation of the Certificate in Honey Bee Breeding, including providing the training and support to both future candidates and assessors. I hope this certificate will provide the framework for the improvement in the skills of queen rearing and bee breeding, ultimately leading to more sustainable domestic queen production. I also supported and contributed to the development of the Honey Bee Health Certificate, which has proven to be very popular within the BBKA members. More recently, I led the scoping of the new on-line module examination system - an exciting development and an evolution from the current examination system to ensure we continue to offer the Module exams following the impact of COVID-19.  

The most important aspect of the BBKA exam system is to provide the steppingstone for constructive learning about bees and beekeeping. To that end the process of gaining knowledge by the candidate in preparation for the assessment is the most important aspect. My progression through the BBKA examination system, has undoubtedly made me a better beekeeper and I would like to encourage and support as many members as possible on their way to becoming a Master Beekeeper too. 


Helen Hughes

I started beekeeping in 2009, after my brother bought me a beehive for my birthday. This propelled me into doing the beginners course with my local beekeeping association. I got my first colony that summer and was completely hooked. I really enjoyed doing all the modules and practical exams and became a Master Beekeeper in 2019.
I’m an active member of my local association, involved with running the beginners course, as well as being a basic assessor and
correspondence course tutor. I love to encourage other beekeepers to learn about this brilliant craft and think that the modules are a great way to do this.
I keep about 10 hives in a semi rural location.


Lynne Ingram

I am a Master Beekeeper with over 30 years beekeeping experience, and currently manage 20 colonies in 3 apiaries. I am a member of Somerset Beekeepers Association, where I hold the roles of Events Officer and Asian Hornet Teams Coordinator.

I am very involved in the education of beekeepers, teaching courses and giving presentations, and more recently initiating online study groups. I also curate and host the online Somerset Lecture Series, and organised the first South West region AHAT Training event. I have been working with beekeepers in Morocco for the last 8 years, which has given me a wonderful insight into their beekeeping practices. I have specifically been working with them on the re-introduction of the Yellow Saharan Bee to its native habitat.

I was elected to the Exam Board in 2019, and have been involved in reviewing modules and reviewing and updating the exam Reading lists. I am an examiner for the Basic, General Husbandry, Microscopy and Bee Health assessments, as well as for the written Module exams. I am also a Correspondence Course tutor. My experience of the BBKA Exam system has made me a much better beekeeper but also given me the knowledge that we never stop learning – there is always something new to know about bees!


Andrew Gibb biography

I started beekeeping whilst I was at a boarding school in Somerset where the biology master gave encouragement to students to show interest in a hive he kept on the roof of his laboratory.

When I left school, Mrs B W Hamlin, a well-known Surrey beekeeper at the time, heard of my interest and gave me some hives and equipment. After keeping bees for 10 years, I attended instruction classes in Guildford run by Mrs Clark and Bob Hammond. In due course I passed the BBKA basic assessment and in the process increased my annual honey yield by 50%. This led me to eventually become a master beekeeper in 1985 and I am now a BBKA examiner. I recently published two books with Ann Harman, a US beekeeper, to help candidates prepare for the beekeeping history questions in the written exams.

I was chief executive officer of Bee Craft Ltd, the organisation that publishes Bee Craft magazine and a wide range of beekeeping books and booklet for 44 years; I have also been chairman of Surrey BKA and its show secretary.