Course Overview

The main aim of this course is to provide quality third level education on bees and beekeeping. This course may be of interest primarily to beekeepers or those considering becoming a beekeeper. It will also be of interest to anyone who has an interest in entomology, pollinators and the decline of bees and pollinators more generally.

In this course students will learn about Entomology (the world of insects) including the diversity of insects, their structure and general biology and their importance to humans. Of course, a lot of focus will be placed on the honeybee. We will also study the complex behaviour of social insects (bees, wasps and ants) and how this is relevant to beekeeping. Honeybee health is of huge importance globally right now and one module will cover this in detail while another will investigate the evolution of the insect group that contains bees. In addition to these topics, practical modules will take students from the basics of learning how to be a beekeeper through to some advanced elements of this area including bee breeding, and the production of honey and other bee products.

As this course is the first of it’s kind in Ireland, please see our Fact Sheet for some common question & answers.

Mode of Study: Blended Learning

Applications and Selections

Applications open from 1st April 2024. 

Applications are made online via the University of Galway Applications System. This course is listed under Adult Learning Undergraduate\Postgraduate, CPD, Micro-credentials & Summer School Applications.

Please visit our How to Apply page for Application tips and Supporting Documents information.

NB: Applicants should include in their application a personal statement giving reasons for why they want to complete the Diploma and what makes them suitable as candidates. Preference may be given to those who would benefit from having a qualification in this field, e.g. beekeepers, or those who are interested in promoting or assisting biodiversity/conservation priorities. The personal statement should be circa 600 words and should outline why you are interested in this course, what experience have you in relation to bees and beekeeping and how it fits into your career or hobby objectives. Our Career Development Service have created a helpful booklet to help you write your Personal Statement.

Who Teaches this Course

Requirements and Assessment

Candidates must already own or have access to (or commit to acquire) at least one hive of bees to be able to complete the Diploma. While not essential, candidates should ideally be a member of a beekeeping association and have completed an introductory beekeeping course. If students own their own hive, they should register their hives with DAFM.

As this course is delivered via Blended learning most of the material is delivered online, please visit to our Online Learning webpage for further details on what is required to participate in a blended learning course.

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements for part-time students can be found here (i.e. age, english language requirements etc.).

Additional Requirements

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)


2 years, part-time

Next start date

September 2024

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date
NFQ level


Mode of study

Blended Learning

ECTS weighting





Course code

Course Outline

This course is comprised of six modules to be taken over two years, three modules per year. Each module is 5 ECTS, see module descriptions below:

Year 1

This module is the study of insects including their relationships to humans and the environment. It will include focus on insect systematics and diversity, insect anatomy and physiology, their general biology and importance in agriculture including beekeeping, industry, and forensics.

Behaviour in Social Insects
This module introduces students to the world of life inside a social insect colony. Focused primarily on the honeybee, but including elements of other social insects, this module covers material relating to bee communication, including; pheromones, waggle dance, grooming and other hygienic behaviours, defence and reproductive behaviours amongst others.

Fundamentals of Beekeeping
This module will introduce the student to the basic principles of beekeeping including; what types of honeybees are involved and where to get bees, types of hives, boxes and equipment needed to keep bees, how to inspect a colony, treatment options for pests and diseases, how to catch, mark and clip queens and manage swarming, basic queen rearing and harvesting honey, and preparing the colonies for winter.

Year 2

Genetics and Evolution of Hymenoptera
This module will provide detailed information for students on Mendelian genetics, chromosomes, meiosis and mitosis. We will introduce students to the particular genetics associated with the hymenoptera including genetic aspects of asexual/sexual phases in the life cycle, inheritance in the honeybee, the genetic basis of sex determination including parthenogenesis. The module will also apply evolutionary genetics knowledge to give an outline account of the the evolution of the honeybee as a social insect and its subsequent evolution into multiple strains globally.

Honeybee Health
This module will introduce students to the factors impacting honeybee health. This includes bee-related factors that regulate honeybee health such as social immunity, influence of microbiome and plant-bee interactions. It will then introduce students to the factors that negatively affect bee health including diseases, pathogens and poisons, habitat decline, and other human influences.

NB: Honeybee Health can be taken as a micro-credential, find out more here

Micro-credentials official logo

Advanced Beekeeping
This module will develop the students’ knowledge of honey production and its preparation for show and sale. it will also deepen the students’ knowledge on apiary management including inspections, state of the art equipment and honey products and managing hygiene and disease.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

This course will offer a formal qualification in Apiculture from a third level Institution recognised at QQI level 7 and will be useful if students wish to pursue beekeeping or other bee-related initiatives as a business venture.

Who’s Suited to This Course

This course is most suited to:

  • Beekeepers (of ALL ages, backgrounds, locations etc.)
  • Retirees
  • Adults interested in a new hobby or something to supplement income part-time
  • Adults interested in biodiversity and the plight of pollinators

Learning Outcomes

Transferable Skills Employers Value

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€1,250 p.a. 2024/25

Fees: Tuition

€1,215 p.a. 2024/25

Fees: Student levy

€35 p.a. 2024/25

Fees: Non EU

€2,000 p.a. 2024/25


A fee scholarship of up to 30% may be available for students who wish to upskill for the purposes of re-employment. For more information download the 2024_25 Fees Scholarship Form

Find out More

Course Administrator
Tel: 091 492144
Fax: 091 525051

What Our Students Say


Brendan Dowling |   Student (Diploma)

As this was the first formal studying I had done in 40 years I was unsure of my ability to keep up with both the content and the assignments. I need not have worried. We were supported well throughout the course and the range of formats for Assignments, MCQs & Practicals meant that a weakness in one format was balanced by the accessibility of others. Whilst the availability of recording of the online lectures facilitated my own life timetable - personally I found the practical days held in the University to be the highlight of the course. On those days we met and worked with the other people on the course and that is where I am most comfortable as a learning environment. The equipment and facilities in the science labs were excellent and there was always someone on hand to support and advise. The content of the course was informative without being dogmatic. As beekeepers we are well aware that there is no one way of doing anything. Every beekeeper has their own favorite method. The course facilitators managed to make everyone feel comfortable and encouraged a continuous dialogue about the benefits of each method – rather than pushing a favored approach.

Brian Dane |   Micro-credential Student (Honey Bee Health)

I have about 15 years experience as a beekeeper, and I have progressed through the FIBKA examination system but I wanted more information about Honeybee Health. This course filled that gap perfectly. I found the course content very complete but very well presented. Dr Helen Mooney and all the lecturers were authoritative and very good communicators. I am a tutor in my Beekeeping association, and I feel much more confident about this duty after completing this course. I found the whole experience very pleasant and enjoyable. I was treated politely and very efficiently by all the academic, management and administrative staff at the University of Galway. I found the format of the course and assignments very good. It was challenging at times but easily managed with the excellent advice and help from our lead tutor. An excellent course and enjoyable experience with the opportunity to meet and network with other experienced beekeepers.

Tom McDonnell |   Student (Diploma)

The Diploma modules and subjects covered were fascinating to study. The online lectures and presentations were brilliant, the quality and knowledge of the lectures & guest lectures were of a high standard covering the latest scientific research and all were very approachable & willing to answer all your questions in a very professional manner. This type of online blended learning suited my own work/life balance of running a small beekeeping business and working shift work. The practical days were very well organized. I learned a lot from the hands-on experience they provided. I have been beekeeping for 20 years but the diploma took it to so many different levels. It has benefitted me personally as a beekeeper running a small beekeeping commercial business. It has opened other opportunities such as producing alternate products from the hive and giving me the confidence to identify and deal with any possible diseases. With the knowledge I have learned and from putting this into practice it has started to improve my own honeybee genetics, bee health, hygienic selection traits, honey production & beekeeping methods. We had a lovely group of like-minded students doing the diploma.