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Intermediate Husbandry Syllabus


The following is a comprehensive syllabus.  The student should consult it in conjunction with the on-site list of questions taken from previous examination papers: testing oneself against the examination questions will give a good idea of how one’s study is progressing and how much of the syllabus has been adequately covered in preparation for the real examination.

   The Candidate shall be able to give an account of and draw illustrative diagrams where appropriate of:  

  • the structure and function of the

      • alimentary,

      • excretory,

      • circulatory,

      • respiratory and

      • nervous systems

  • the exocrine glands and their secretions including the

      • hypopharyngeal

      • mandibular,

      • Nasanov,

      • sting and wax glands;

  • metamorphosis in each caste of the honeybee including

      • the number of days spent in each stage of the development from

  • egg to larva,

  • to pupa,

  • to emergence of the adult;

  • caste differentiation in female honeybees particularly with respect to feeding;

  • laying workers and drone laying queens and the conditions leading to them;

  • the external structure of

    • queen,

    • worker and

    • drone and the differences between them;

  • the structure and function of

    • mouthparts,

    • legs,

    • antennae,

    • sting and

    • wings of each caste;

  • the functions, duties and behaviour of the worker honeybee throughout its life including

    • foraging behaviour and

    • orientation and how these functions depend on glandular development;

  • parthenogenesis and the mating behaviour of the honeybee queen and drone;

  • the seasonal variation in the population size of the honeybee colony and the differences between summer and winter worker honeybees;

  • the importance of pheromones, particularly

    • queen substance,

    • Nasonov pheromone and

    • alarm pheromones in the organisation of a honeybee colony;

  • methods of communication used by honeybees including

    • dances,

    • food sharing and

    • scenting;

  • the collection of

    • nectar,

    • pollen,

    • propolis and

    • water and their use by the colony;

  • the conversion of nectar to honey and the inter-relationships of  nectar, honey and water;

  • the distinguishing features of

    • swarm,

    • supersedure and

    • emergency queen cells and

    • the processes of swarming and supersedure;

  • a method of rearing queens suitable for use in an apiary of  five to ten colonies;

  • methods of queen introduction including necessary precautions;

  • the signs of queenlessness and how to confirm the condition;

  • methods of marking and clipping queens and the advantages and disadvantages of these practices.                                                                                                                                                                                  

    The Candidate shall be able to give an account of and draw illustrative diagrams where appropriate of:  

  • the types of hive and frame used by beekeepers in Ireland;

  • the principles that govern the design of hives and frames including the concept of bee space;

  • the use of wax foundation, wired and non-wired;

  • how to begin beekeeping including the acquisition of bees, sources of equipment, costs and any precautions necessary;

  • the factors to be considered in the siting of colonies in home and out- apiaries;

  • the actions which can be taken to avoid bad-tempered bees causing a nuisance;

  • the year’s work in the apiary and how this depends on the local forage and the annual colony cycle;

  • the principles involved in feeding bees, including

    • types of feeder,

    • amounts of food

    • types of food,

    • timing of feeding and

    • any precautions necessary;

  • the principles of supering and the relationship between supering and swarm prevention;

  • the prevention, detection and control of swarming;

  • methods of taking  and hiving swarms of honeybees;

  • the use and types of queen excluder used in Ireland;

  • the methods of making nuclei and the uses to which nuclei can be put;

  • the methods used to unite colonies of honeybees and any precautions necessary;

  • robbing by bees and wasps and associated dangers;

  • spring, summer and autumn management of honeybee colonies;

  • moving honeybee colonies and difficulties and dangers involved;

  • different methods of clearing bees from supers;

  • how colonies are prepared for winter and how mice can be excluded from hives;

  • effects of honeybee stings and recommended first aid treatment.

The Candidate shall be able to give an account of and draw illustrative diagrams where appropriate of:  
the field diagnosis of:

  • American Foul Brood (AFB) and

  • European Foul Brood  (EFB);

      • the life cycle of the causative organisms of AFB and EFB and their development within the larvae;

      • the ways in which AFB and EFB are spread from one colony to another;

      • the methods  of dealing with colonies infected with AFB and EFB including methods of

      • destruction of colonies and

      • sterilisation of equipment;

      • the statutory requirements relating to foul brood,

  • Varroosis and the importation of honeybees and their implementation in Ireland;

The life cycle and natural history of Varroosis including its

  • development within the colony,  

  • how it spreads and

  • how it may be treated;

  • the cause, signs and recommended treatment (if any) of the following brood diseases and conditions –

      • Chalk brood,

      • Sac brood,

      • Chilled brood,

      • Neglected drone brood;

      • the cause, signs, and treatment (if any) of adult bee diseases;

      • Nosema,

      • Dysentery,

      • Acarine,

      • Amoeba and

      • Chronic Bee Paralysis

      • The laboratory methods of diagnosis of

        • Acarine,

        • Nosema and

        • Amoeba disease in worker honeybees;

      • the fumigation of comb using acetic acid (ethanoic acid) including safety precautions to be taken;

      • the life cycle of Braula coeca and a description of the differences between the adult form and Varroosis

      • the signs of poisoning by for example pesticides, herbicides, sprays and other chemicals to which honeybees may be exposed;

      • the proper action to take when prior notification of application of toxic chemicals to crops has been given;

      • the damage caused to colonies and equipment by mice and other pests and ways of preventing this;

      • the damage caused by wax moths and the life cycle of both the Lesser and Greater wax moth (Achroia Grisella and Galleria Mellonella);

      • the methods of treating and storing comb with particular reference to preventing moth damage.

        The Candidate shall be able to give an account of and draw illustrative diagrams where appropriate of:  
        the main requirements of the current statutory regulations affecting the

        • handling,

        • preparation for sale,

        • composition,

        • labelling and

        • weight of packs of honey

How worker honeybees collect nectar and process it into honey;
the methods used to

  • decap honeycombs and of

  • separating the cappings from the honey

  • the extraction of honey from combs and the type of extractor used;

  • the straining and settling of honey and its storage after extraction;

  • the preparation and jarring of liquid honey including ling heather honey

  • ;the preparation and jarring of naturally granulated, soft set and seeded honey;

  • the preparation of section, cut-comb and chunk honey for sale;

  • methods of determining the moisture content of honey;

  • the physical properties of honey including its

      • mineral content,

      • specific gravity,

      • viscosity,

      • hygroscopicity,

      • reaction to heat and

      • HMF content;

  • the main constituents and physical properties of beeswax and how to recover beeswax from comb and cappings;

  • the uses of other bee products such as pollen, royal jelly, venom and propolis;

  • the preparation of bee products for the show bench;

  • 6 major nectar and/or pollen plants in Ireland and their flowering periods;

  • how honeybees collect nectar and pollen and how Sir Arthur Dobbs’(Carrickfergus) studies in this field showed that honeybees were flower-faithful;

  • the processes of pollination and fertilisation in a typical flowering plant;

  • the genetic and evolutionary importance of cross-pollination, the importance of Mendel’s research in this sphere and the methods used by plants to favour cross-pollination;

  • the composition of  nectar and its variations and the effect of differing weather conditions;

  • the origins and typical composition of honeydew with a brief description of the characteristics of honeydew honey.