Outcome 3 is competency development in good standards of beekeeping and husbandry to minimise pests and disease risks and contribute to sustaining honey bee populations.

Terms of reference

The Sub-group has agreed the Terms of Reference as:

  • to identify and raise awareness of the need for competency and make recommendations on promoting competency to all beekeepers, using the leaflets, websites, etc and other means identified and recommended by the Effective Communications and Relations Sub Group
  • to identify the need to achieve Competence in beekeeping through
  • formal Teaching and Training at an introductory level and continuing with scientific and practical study, following an approved syllabus, structured courses of group and personal study and use of mentors with recognition awarded through examination and formal accreditation; supported by
  • informal Training by working alongside other beekeepers, in managing an apiary and apiary output and through personal study of available information, i.e. self taught and working towards achieving formal accreditation
  • to agree recommendations on how the programme of Formal Teaching and Training should be developed, promoted and resourced as the primary element in acquiring competency
  • to also agree recommendations on validating Informal Training in motivating, accommodating and recognising those not inclined to undertake further academic study but have the capacity and commitment to improve their competency in beekeeping husbandry and managing their beekeeping organisations
  • to identify and agree priorities for Implementation Group approval and agree a work programme for priority areas identified and approved by the Implementation Group
  • to identify the resources and support needed to deliver and sustain these recommendations over the next decade
  • to review facts and figures for targets set and achieved through formal training and education activity
  • number of beekeepers involved in Association meetings and events
  • number of beekeepers receiving support from accredited mentors plus evaluation and impact assessment of that support
  • to develop effective training programmes to senior level for beekeeping tutors and mentors that will equip them to deliver accredited education and training courses and provide an associated mentoring service to beekeepers over the next decade
  • to aim to meet as needed to make progress and report periodically to the Implementation Group

Supporting information

The Strategic Outcomes are statements which look ahead and their main purpose is to provide a focus for our work in the Sub-Group.


Can be defined as a cluster of related abilities, commitments, knowledge and skills that enables a person or an organisation to act effectively in a job or situation.

The emphasis in the Strategy is on honey bee husbandry knowledge and skills ability plus a commitment to use effectively in managing, colonies, apiaries and apiary outputs in an individual capacity and as members of beekeeping organisations.

Priority Areas in the above Terms of Reference

  • improving competence through a Programme of Training the Tutors (Current qualified Teachers, Trainers and Mentors)
  • developing Senior level beekeeping courses
  • improving Competnce through training a succession of Tutors for the future
  • providing guidance on mentoring to improve beekeeping competence
  • raising Awareness of beekeeping information through use of FERA, NBU and other accredited sources of best practice guidelines appropiate to beekeeping in Northern Ireland

Training the Tutor (Teachers, Trainers and Mentors)

The Sub-Group work on proposals for this programme considers that the target group to be trained as ”tutors” be confined be those experienced beekeepers holding a recognised qualification at least one level  above the course being delivered. This target group should show commitment, ability and be available to undertake teaching, training and mentoring responsibilities.

Further work on programme content, participants, timetable and financing is needed in order to bring detailed recommendations to the Implementation Group.

Developing Senior Level Beekeeping Courses

The motivation needed to achieve higher level qualifications is significantly enhanced by having access to the educational expertise and guidance provided by CAFRE.  This is an essential element to the development, implementation and quality assurance of the beekeeping teaching and training across Northern Ireland This DARD support must be retained and strengthened in developing and implementing an effective programme of senior level courses and tutor training and should receive adequate resources.

There was a view that it was not for the Sub Group, or indeed the Implementation Group, to recommend a particular syllabus which beekeepers in Northern Ireland should follow; rather it is for the Sub-group and Implementation Group to encourage beekeepers and their Associations to engage in formal and informal training.

The Sub Group looked at the BBKA and FIBKA syllabus for examining and accrediting practical proficiency as the basis for “approved or accredited” status for those experienced beekeepers, especially those not willing to take written examinations at the higher levels, but can be encouraged to submit to practical oral examinations in their own apiary.

The Sub Group recommends that this be agreed as a priority in supporting the above “tutor” “trainer” and mentor roles and as an integral part of a structured progression from preliminary to higher level academic and/or practical beekeeping qualifications.

Improving Competence through Training the Tutors of the Future

The Sub- Group recognises that an on-going training programme is needed to ensure a sustainable supply of competent qualified tutors to meet future needs of the increased number of new entrants to beekeeping.

Providing these senior level courses and encouraging their uptake is essential in sourcing a sustainable supply of experienced beekeepers holding a recognised qualification who will also benefit from training in the skills needed as teachers, trainers and mentors.

The relevance of the FERA/BBKA “Course in the Case” resource and Training the Trainers programme is also being assessed and should be included, where appropriate, in the above programmes of developing these skills.

Improving Competence Through Mentoring

Mentoring and it’s role in improving competence was considered in the Sub Group discussions.  It was agreed that mentoring will benefit from a formal recognition of beekeeping competence achieved by the mentor and supported with guidance on mentoring skills and how they should be used in programmes to develop competence.

Raising Awareness of Available Beekeeping Information

The Competency Sub-Group agreed that access to FERA publications and NBU best practice recommendations should be available through user friendly DARD and Association website links.

Key Actions and Timelines

Proposals are attached for Implementation Group consideration and approval.


Name Organisation
David Wright UBKA
Ethel Irvine UBKA
Tom Canning INIB
Lyndon Wortley INIB
Kenny White CAFRE (Rural training and 
development branch)


  • to improve the competence of teachers, trainers, mentors and examiners through a programme of Training the Teachers and Trainers
  • to standardise the delivery of their roles within each programme
  • to review, adopt and implement those aspects of available syllabus which are best suited to our needs in Northern Ireland and can improve the current situation

Minutes of meetings

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