Candidates are expected to be familiar with a large range of hive types

Candidate Guidance

Applicants for the NDB Examination are normally required to hold the Senior Certificate of their National Beekeeping Association (such as the BBKA’s Master Beekeeper certificate) although at the Board’s discretion there are limited exceptions to that rule.

The progression from Master Beekeeper (or other UK Senior Certificate) to the NDB is one that causes problems for some candidates in that they fail to appreciate the difference, not only in the standard required, but also the way in which the NDB examination is constructed.

The written paper is similar in format to the BBKA or Scottish Modules but at an obviously higher standard and with the requirement for the candidate to be up to date with both legislation and best practice, particularly in the field of disease.

Examples of topics suitable for the written assignment are available. Candidates should note that their assignment topic will be set by the NDB Board, rather than being suggested or selected by the Candidate. read more

The Practical Assessment Day

The Practical, held over one day, consists of four modules, each assessed by two examiners. The handling module requires the candidate to be able to work three or four colonies that he or she will be viewing for the first time. The major test here is to be able to diagnose quickly and accurately the condition of the colonies and suggest any further required action. It is imperative that the candidate is able to work in a confident manner and at the same time, articulate his or her responses to the satisfaction of the Examiners. For those applicants with a limited number of colonies, the advice given in all cases is to spend some time with a beekeeper operating on a somewhat larger scale.

Candidate Adam Leitch during his NDB exam. Ben Harden NDB and Ivor Davis NDB in shot, with Paul Metcalf NDB and Clive de Bruyn NDB out of shot.

Reading a Colony

The Scientific module is an extension from the Senior Certificate and demands a good knowledge of bee plants. Candidates are issued with a check list of those plants which may be presented for identification and classification. read more

Setting up a microscope, performing adult bee dissection and identifying insect species and pollen grain features are also required skills.
In the lab IMG_3624

In the case of the disease module, it is essential that the candidates bring good experience in the handling of diseased combs both in the apiary and in a laboratory situation. This component of the examination cannot be learnt from books and candidates are advised to seek the assistance of their local bee inspector and to take advantage of any courses on offer.


Diseased comb

The viva voce tests the ability of the candidate to describe, in simple terms, the answers to certain recurring situations in beekeeping and is intended to offer explanations with clarity of thought. In many ways, it offers a type of quality control against the outcome of the other three modules. The viva also allows for detailed discussion of the candidate’s beekeeping and botany portfolios, and their written assignment.

The Board’s Moderator subsequently receives the reports of the eight examiners and decisions on Pass or Fail are reached following a round table discussion.

The Diploma, by virtue of its depth in knowledge and practice is applicable to only a small percentage of beekeepers; but at the same time, it is a challenge that some are willing to accept and in the process, make immense strides with their beekeeping development.

All content copyright The National Diploma in Beekeeping Board.

%d bloggers like this: