Journeyman Level Course

Dates April 15-June 14, 2024
Instructors Jerry Bromenshenk, Scott Debnam & Phillip Welch
Registration Fee $430
Location Course meets fully online

Course Description

The Journeyman Level Beekeeping course is the second step in UM's Master Beekeeping Certificate Program. Throughout nine weeks of engaging online discussion, this course delves deeper into the life and ecology of the honey bee. Topics include the honey bee’s interaction with native pollinators, the plants they work with, honey marketing and labeling, evaluating scientific literature, and bee poisoning and pollinator protection.

Students receive detailed instruction on the honey bee’s internal anatomy and the structures and uses of their external anatomy. Instruction includes the use of microscopy and other tools used in diagnosing diseases and pests, as well as alternative methods for the treatment of these ailments. By the end of the course, students will understand the honey bee’s place in the ecosystem and how their unique anatomy contributes to their interactions with the world both inside and outside the hive. Course syllabus.

The course is structured with weekly topics, discussion forums, assignments, and quizzes. However, there are no scheduled class meeting times when all students need to be logged in and “attending” the course at the same time. Instead, students work on the course at whatever times best fit their schedule. Instructions for logging on to the online course will be sent to registrants about one week before the class begins. Participants must have access to an internet-connected computer and should allow for 5-7 hours per week of study time. The course is taught online through Moodle, the University of Montana’s online learning system. View the computer system requirements.

Upon successful completion of the course, 4.5 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) will be awarded and a certificate issued.

The course offers optional academic credit and has been approved for three credits through the University of Montana Division of Biological Sciences as BIOB 225 Journeyman Beekeeping.  Students who opt to take the course for academic credit must pay an additional $135 credit recording fee. Students must be a minimum of age 16 in order to register for the credit section.


  • Registration for the Journeyman Level course is open to those who successfully completed UM's Apprentice Level Beekeeping Course or to experienced beekeepers who have tested out of our Apprentice course. See "Test out of the Apprentice Level Course" near the bottom of this page.
  • Ability to successfully overwinter your colony to illustrate you have put into practice the lessons taught in the Apprentice level.
  • If you are a new beekeeper, we also suggest a minimum 1-year break between the Apprentice and Journeyman courses. This break allows participants to apply skills learned before progressing to the next level.

Required Course Materials

Allow 5-10 business days for delivery of textbooks, which are distributed by smaller publishers.

Beekeeping in Western Canada

T.I. Szabo, D.L. Nelson.  Information Services, Agriculture Canada in Ottawa, Ont.
ISBN 0-7732-6139-7 (pbl.: alk.Paper). The 1998 edition or newer is required.
Available through Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.
Free, electronic version available through Biodiversity Heritage Library

Pollinator Protection: A Bee & Pesticide Handbook

C.A. Johansen, D.F. Mayer. Wicwas Press.
ISBN 978-1-878075-31-4 
Available through Wicwas Press or Amazon.

Microscope Recommendations

Use the example microscopes below as a guideline for determining what microscope to purchase for the course(s). All students need is a microscope that provides 400x magnification for Journeyman and higher. Features like binocular optics and mechanical stages are options one can consider that make interacting with the scope more comfortable. However, these optional features are not necessary to perform the assignments from the course.

  • Bare bones: Emarth Compound Microscope. Some may find that the monocular is uncomfortable.  Others prefer to use one eye when using a microscope.  This option also lacks a mechanical stage which can be helpful.   
  • Mid-range: AmScope B120C Siedentopf Binocular Compound Microscope. This scope has binocular optics and a mechanical stage at a cost that won’t break the bank. 
  • Top end: Swift SW350B 40x – 2500x. All the features available on this microscope will not be needed.  Students should only purchase a microscope of this caliper if they plan to use it often and for things other than just Nosema testing of their hives. 

Other materials will be provided in class as needed.

Is this program for me?

Both hobbyist and commercial beekeepers have taken our courses. To gain the most benefit from the program, students should have entry-level experience with handling bees, an appreciation of the contribution bees provide to our food crops, an awareness of current honey bee health issues that impact bee populations, and be committed to honey bee vitality.

  • Students should be able to read, study and write at the college level.
  • Students should have an interest in the science of beekeeping.
  • Students must be a minimum of age 16.
  • Students should be able to allocate enough time for the coursework: at least three hours per week in addition to every hour of class time.
  • Students should have or be willing to acquire textbooks, basic beekeeping clothing and equipment. A microscope is required for the Journeyman and Master Level courses.
  • Students should have an open mind and be interested in joining a community of informed beekeepers - a network that will serve as a resource for years to come.
  • Instruction focuses only on the Langstroth hive. Top-bar and alternative hive designs are not used in this program.

Test Fee: $60

Registration for the Test

Our Apprentice course is the foundation for all other courses. Experienced beekeepers may begin at a higher level (Journeyman Level or Natural Beekeeping) if they pass UM's Apprentice Level course final exams.  To test out of the Apprentice course, participants must achieve an average score of 80% or higher across both online exams, which have been designed to determine Apprentice-Level proficiency. 

We suggest reading the Apprentice Level book before attempting the exams:

Storey's Guide to Keeping Honey Bees, 2nd Edition: Honey Production, Pollination, Health
Malcom T. Sanford and Richard E. Bonney, Storey Publishing 2018
ISBN: 9781612129785 (Paperback)

Participants have only one attempt to pass the timed exams. Exams are graded within 10 business days, and participants will be notified of their final score by email. If you receive a passing score, you may register for the next available course (Journeyman Level or Natural Beekeeping) by visiting the program website. If a course is not currently available, you will be notified of future offerings via email.

Course Policies

Beekeeping courses are dependent upon a minimum number of registered students to run. If the minimum enrollment is not met, the course will be cancelled and registrants fully refunded. Courses are limited to a maximum enrollment with registration on a first-come, first-served basis. Once a course is full, students will be added to a waitlist and notified if an opening becomes available.

Registration fees vary by course and full payment is required at the time of registration.  If your payment is not received by one week before the course start date, you will be dropped from the course.

Students will receive full refunds for cancellations received up to one week before the course start date. To cancel a course, students should call Student Support Services, (406) 243-6495.

Refunds are generally not provided for cancellations received after a course begins.  Please note the University of Montana requires a "Substitute W-9 Form" in order to process refunds for payments made by check. The "Substitute W-9" form requires the student’s Social Security Number.

UM will provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. To request an accommodation, students should contact Student Support Services, (406) 243-6495, at least two weeks before a course starts.