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New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture

Level 3

Discover the fascinating world of sustainable beekeeping and how to become a beekeeper in UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture.

Beekeeper holding honeycomb
Quick info

Level: 3

Locations: Whanganui

Duration: 18 weeks, full-time

6 Aug 2018 - 7 Dec 2018

Domestic Fees:*
Nil fees

Find out if you're eligible for fees-free study

International Fees:*

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

Learn how to start beekeeping by acquiring the skills and knowledge to work safely and productively in a beekeeping environment, and contribute to this sustainable primary industry. 

This programme is ideal for those interested in beekeeping, are hobbyists, or are semi-commercial beekeepers. 

Nil fees
The current funding available is by Māori and Pasifika Trades Training and is available to Māori and Pasifika people aged between 16 - 40 years, fees-free.

The learning experience
UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture is taught by bee keeping industry professionals and delivered via blended delivery and practical learning in real environments. Blended delivery incorporates lectures, practical field work, as well as working with course materials in our online platform. While students further their learning online, participation in the UCOL hives and in-class lectures are required, which then cements students’ learning hands-on.

This programme begins with the basics of bee biology and hive construction, managing hives for optimal honeybee health and production, and goes on through extraction and disease management planning and control. Students come out from the programme with their own manual for their own management style depending on the style of beekeeping that they are going into. This manual is also a tool and resource that they can then use for when they work in the apiculture industry.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Successful graduates of UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture are work-ready for the commercial industry and are able to manage their own hives on a small to medium scale. 

You'll be able to perfom the following tasks working as an assistant beekeeper for a commercial operator or as an independent beekeeper with a small number of beehives:

  • Maintain, manipulate and operate beehives to produce quality products and pollination services
  • Assist to transport beehives and bee products, and establish hives in new sites
  • Carry out a beehive disease management plan.

 Course Information

You'll learn about the sustainable aspects of beekeeping focusing on environmental, social, and economic situations and possibilities, including:

Beekeeping Fundamentals (15 credits)
Learn current apiculture industry regulations, the fundamentals of beekeeping, and equipment required for working with a beehive.

Manipulating Hives (20 credits)
Learn the knowledge and skills required to establish, manage and manipulate bee colonies including honey extraction.

Beehive Disease Management Planning (15 credits)
Gain the fundamental skills and knowledge to correctly identify beehive diseases, pests, and disorders as part of a disease management plan.

Beehive Disease Management Control (15 credits)
Gain the basic practical skills and knowledge to control and/or eliminate beehive diseases, pests, and disorders as part of a disease management plan.

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Domestic Entry Requirements

NCEA Level 1


Equivalent academic achievement


On a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Executive Dean


For more information about NCEA Credits see UCOL's NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

English language proficiency
International student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS General or Academic score of 5 with no band score lower than 5 (or equivalent, including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). UCOL is a TOEFL iBT testing centre. The English Proficiency test is accepted for English language entry into all UCOL programmes. 

Under 20 years of age
For international applicants under 20 years of age who do not hold NCEA, International Academic Qualifications Entry Criteria apply.

 Advice & Guidance

UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture (Level 3) comprises 65 credits.

Māori and Pasifika Trades Training funding
Note that this programme is funded by Māori and Pasifika Trades Training and is available to Māori and Pasifika people aged between 16 - 40 years, fees-free.

Health and safety
Students need to be aware of possible allergic or anaphylactic reactions that may occur following interaction with bees.

Special needs
If you have any special needs or requirements, put these in writing and advise the Programme Leader before the course begins.

Blended delivery
Learning is a blend of theory, technical skills and practical work experience to help students gain a good mix of essential skills and knowledge in the classroom, on-line and on the land. You'll need access to a computer and Internet to complete on-line learning requirements.

Practical experience
Work experience of up to 80 hours is part of the programme. This could include working with another beekeeper, experience on your own hives (if student has hives), or with the UCOL apiary. This component is required for completion of the course for full practical skills experience. You'll need to budget for associated travel costs.

Additional qualification
Students will be given the opportunity to complete the American Foulbrood Recognition course and exam, which is an initial compliance component for individuals to meet industry requirements specific to the Disease Elimination Conformity Agreement (DECA).

Your personalised timetable will be available just prior to classes starting, and will comprise:

  • at least 15 hours of independent learning time in addition to class time
  • 30% of the course is online for further tutorials, course material, independent learning, quizzes and assessments
  • practical experience of 80 hours (approximately 4.7 hours per week).

Both the Whanganui and Palmerston North cohorts will have a combined class on Tuesdays in Whanganui for lectures. Palmerston North students will have transportation for class out to Whanganui.

The Palmerston North cohort will have class at the hives in Ashhurst on Wednesdays.

The Whanganui cohort will have class at the hives up the Whanganui river on Thursdays.

Recognition of Prior Learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met.

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email.

 Additional Costs

Required Textbooks   
  • Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand  - Andrew Matheson, Murray Reid (Approximately $60)
  • Elimination of American Foulbrood Disease without the Use of Drugs – Mark Goodwin (Approximately $30)
  • Control of Varroa - Mark Goodwin (Approximately $30)
Recommended text (optional)
  • A Beekeeper's Year - A Practical Guide to Caring for Bees and Beehives - Janet Luke (Approximately $30)


  • One full-length beekeeping suit (snug fit) with hood - approximately $172
  • One pair of beekeeping gloves – approximately $45
Liquid smoke (from Davis Trading in Palmerston North) - approximately $10


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education Act 1989, and Universal College of Learning (UCOL) Trading as Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is accredited to teach it.