New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture (Queen Bee Rearing) (Level 4)

This programme will teach you how to rear queen bees for a commercial bee product producer or to operate your own queen-rearing operation. You’ll be able to work independently or supervise others.

About the programme

Gain the skills and knowledge to rear queen bees.

This programme will enable you to rear queen bees for a commercial operation or to operate your own queen-bee-rearing operation. Graduates will be able to work independently and could supervise others.

Apiculture is one of New Zealand's fastest growing industries and apiarists are in high demand.

Graduates of this programme will be well-received by the industry, which needs a steady supply of quality queen bees to ensure the genetic diversity of existing and new hives. In turn, you'll be helping to ensure the wellbeing of our wider community, as a strong bee industry is critical to ensuring the ongoing supply of food.

We are the only tertiary provider of this industry-recognised training pathway in New Zealand, but you can study in a range of locations (see locations in 'What you study' below), as this programme is taught online with block courses.

Block course locations

  • Christchurch (National Trades Academy)
  • Cromwell, Central Otago (Bannockburn Road)
  • Dunedin (Momona Hall)
  • Hamilton (Fraser High School)
  • New Plymouth, Taranaki (Coastal Taranaki School, Okato)
  • Ōrewa, North Auckland (Hibiscus Coast Community House)
  • Tauranga (Whataroa Road)


Course name Course Description Credits

Queen Bee Biology, Rearing and Breeding


This course will enable you to describe the biology, rearing and breeding of queen bees. 

Indicative content 

  • Life cycle and reproductive anatomy of the queen and drone
  • Role of a drone congregation area, and the role of pheromones in mating
  • Describe the three queen rearing impulses in terms of the way in which they are created in a beehive
  • Describe how genetic characteristics can be measured from characteristics of bees and within the hive
  • Describe how a bee breeding programme operates to improve breeding stock
  • Describe the role of instrumental insemination in bee breeding
  • Assess beehives from an apiary for breeder queens with desirable characteristics.

Learning outcomes

At the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Describe the life cycle, anatomy and reproduction processes of queen and drone bees.
  2. Describe bee genetics in relation to bee breeding.
  3. Explain the importance of bee breeding programmes for stock improvement.
  4. Identify and assess characteristics for breeder queen bees for selection.

Beehive Management for Queen Bee Rearing

Learn how to prepare for and to rear queen bees. 

Indicative content 

  • Plan the timing and timeframes for completion of queen bee rearing activities to meet objectives, client needs, and size of operation
  • Manipulate cell builder beehive to receive grafted larvae
  • Graft larvae and assess the success rate of the grafting exercise, and monitor feed as required
  • Introduce queen bee cells into queen-less beehives or nucleus beehives
  • Describe the nutritional requirements of the queen bee and the hive
  • Carry out the marking and caging process for a queen bee.

Learning outcomes 

At the successful completion of this course, learners will be able to:

  1. Prepare a queen bee rearing management plan to meet seasonal requirements
  2. Prepare queen bee rearing equipment to enable the grafting of queen bees
  3. Graft queen bees
  4. Describe beehive manipulations and the nutritional requirements of queen bees
  5. Carry out bee hive manipulations for queen bee rearing. 

Disease, Hive and Business Management


Learn how to implement a disease management plan for queen rearing, set up nucleus hives for mating queen bees and to develop a business strategy for queen reading operation. 

Indicative content 

  • Transfer frames of capped brood, honey, pollen and bees into an empty nucleus box with a feeder
  • Introduce queen cell and monitor beehive until queen is mated
  • Conduct treatment of hives for varroa mite, including applying integrated pest management techniques
  • Assess beehives for ongoing disease presence and feed hives to maintain and improve hive health
  • Maintain disease compliance requirements
  • Research the current operation of the business
  • Develop an action plan for implementing a business strategy.

Learning outcomes

At the successful completion of this course, learners will be able to:

  1. Select and prepare equipment to produce a nucleus beehive.
  2. Produce a nucleus beehive and introduce a queen bee for mating.
  3. Implement a pest and disease management plan for queen bee rearing.
  4. Develop a business strategy for a queen bee rearing business.

Further study options

Graduates of this programme can further their learning with the New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture (Level 4) or other qualifications in small business management. 


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative only. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.