The Bee Farmers’ Association has developed this unique apprenticeship scheme in partnership with Rowse Honey.

The scheme, supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and developed with the help of the Livery Companies Skills Council and City & Guilds, is open to 16 to 24-year-olds and aims to equip young people with the skills and knowledge to make a successful career in the bee farming industry. Those successfully completing the three-year programme are awarded a Diploma in Excellence in Bee Farming by the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers.

Launched in 2014 to much interest, 30 trainees have been placed during the first five years of the scheme.

Recruitment is on a needs basis, with cohorts commencing each spring. Further information on applying can be found here.

What Will You Study?

Apprentices are employed on a bee farm in the UK.

You will be working with your employer (also called the host trainer) for the majority of the year, gaining practical experience as you earn. There may be opportunities to work on different bee farms throughout the country and visit different businesses in order to gain breadth and variety of experience.

Underpinning knowledge will be delivered by our expert industry trainers in two blocks per year, each of two weeks. You will study:

  • introduction to beekeeping
  • equipment
  • carpentry and basic woodworking skills
  • seasonal management
  • queen rearing and stock improvement
  • botany and forage sources
  • pollen and nutrition
  • honey bee anatomy
  • honey bee diseases
  • integrated pest management
  • microscopy
  • processing hive products
  • bottling and presentation
  • setting up a business
  • business structures
  • finance
  • marketing
  • the competitive environment
  • the industry worldwide
  • health and safety
  • first aid
  • food hygiene.

These residential study blocks, along with training and visit days and online forums, provide the opportunity to meet and communicate with other apprentices and build friendships and contacts for the future.

Assessment

Each apprentice is allocated an assessor. Apprentices are required to record their activities in a weekly log which is signed off by their host trainer and reviewed by the assessor to confirm work meets the standards required. The log is maintained on a specially-designed e-learning platform; training is given at the start of the course on how to use this system. The team delivering and managing the programme meets regularly to ensure assessment is standardised and high-quality delivery is maintained.

Support

In addition to specialist support provided by the host trainer and expert industry trainers, each apprentice is assigned a mentor who provides support on pastoral issues. This ensures any possible difficulties that may arise are dealt with efficiently and effectively.

Finance

Apprentices are paid directly by their employer (host trainer). While the Bee Farmers’ Association asks employers to pay a base rate which values the apprentice’s contribution to the business, employers may, and often do, pay above this rate. The training element of the scheme is financed by commercial sponsors Rowse Honey. Defra supports the scheme by contributing to the costs of the assessors. Other sponsors provide practical benefits - for example, BJ Sherriff has provided bee suits. Apprentices who fit the age criteria are provided with a rail travel card free of charge for the duration of their programme. Other sponsors sometimes help employers with wages. 

Duration

The programme lasts for three years.

Further Information

Further information on applying for the scheme can be found here.

For all general enquiries regarding the apprenticeship scheme, please contact the General Secretary.