A few days back I was talking to a friend about my bees and what a honey farm does. I noticed that he seemed lost at some of the terms I was using. Well, that got me going and I decided to share this basic glossary of beekeeping terms.
Apiary – where a beekeeper keeps beehives and colonies, may also be called a bee yard.
Apiculture – raising and keeping honeybees.
Apis mellifera – the scientific name for the honey bee. Apis = bee (Genus) ; mellifera = honey carrying (species).
Bearding – when bees gather on the outside of a beehive. This keeps the inside of the hive cool on hot days and when the hive is crowded.
Bee bread – A mixture of honey and fermented pollen which is fed to the brood.
Beehive – a box or receptacle in which a colony of bees is kept, can also be called a “beehive” or simply “hive”.
Beeswax – the substance that bees use to build their combs. The worker bees secrete wax scales from their abdomens and use their jaws to form it into hexagonal comb cells.
Bee veil – a mesh mask or hat worn to protect from stings.
Bottom board / Baseboard – the floor of a beehive.
Brood – immature bees that have not yet emerged from their cells; can be eggs, larvae, or pupae.
Brood box – the part of the hive in which the brood is reared.May also be called the brood chamber.
Burr comb – comb that bees build in places outside the frames. Burr comb may be on top of frames or joining frames together, and it can contain brood.
Colony – all the bees living together in a hive, including worker bees, drones, queen, and developing brood.
Comb – a sheet of hexagonal cells made of beeswax in which brood is reared and honey and pollen are stored.
Drones – the male honey bees, which are stingless, have rounded abdomens and bigger eyes than the queen or the workers. They are less numerous than the workers, and their main purpose is to impregnate a queen from another colony.
Festooning – when bees hang together, leg-to-leg in a lacework pattern between frames. This behaviour is associated with comb building. It’s not fully understood, but people think that they do this to measure and/or provide scaffolding during construction.
Frame – a piece of equipment that is kept in a hive to hold the honeycomb. The frames can be inserted and removed without destroying the comb.
Hive stand – a base that supports the beehive.
Hive tool / J Tool – used for opening hives, prying frames apart, and scraping wax and propolis from the hive parts.
Honey – a sweet, sticky substance produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. It is mainly composed of a mixture of sugars dissolved in water, with small amounts of mineral matter, vitamins, proteins, and enzymes.
Larva (plural: larvae) – developing bees between the stage of eggs and pupae. Larvae are white, legless, and lay in a curled shape at the bottom of their wax cell. Also known as “open brood” or “unsealed brood”.
Nectar – a sweet liquid secreted by the nectar glands of flowers. Honey bees collect nectar and use it as the raw material in making honey.
Nucleus / Nuc – a small beehive which consists of fewer frames than a typical hive, which is used for starting new colonies or rearing or storing queens.
Pollen – the male reproductive cell bodies produced by anthers of flowers. Honey bees collect pollen and use it as their source of protein.
Propolis – a sticky substance composed of tree resins and plant materials, made by bees and used to seal cracks and holes within the hive. This helps to prevent diseases and parasites from entering the hive and to inhibit fungal and bacterial growth. May also be called “bee glue”.
Pupa (plural: pupae) – larvae develop into pupae within capped cells. The pupae remain within the capped cells until they moult into adult bees and chew their way out of the cell. Also referred to as “capped brood” or “sealed brood”.
Queen – the only female bee in a colony with a fully developed reproductive system. The queen is larger and longer than a worker bee and lays all the eggs in the colony.
Queen cell – a special cell in which is built specifically for a queen to be reared in. It is much longer than a regular cell and hangs vertically from the comb.
Royal jelly – a milky-white substance secreted from the glands of young bees, it is highly nutritious and used to feed the queen and young brood.
Smoker – a device with bellows attached in which organic materials are slowly burned to produce smoke (not flames). A smoker is used to calm bees during a hive inspection.
Stinger – a barbed structure protruding from the abdomen of a worker honeybee. When a honeybee uses its stinger, the stinger will stick in the skin of the receiver and the bee will die.
Super / Honey Super – a hive body or smaller box placed above the brood chamber to store honey.
Swarm – a large number of bees that leaves the original colony to establish a new colony. A swarm consists of worker bees, drones, and usually the original queen.
Worker bee – a female bee with undeveloped reproductive organs. Most bees in a honeybee colony are worker bees, and they do all the work in the hive aside from laying fertile eggs.
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been working in one of four fields. Hell, there were times I was doing them all at once! Rain or shine, you would find me either working with the livestock we had, the beehives, working as a photojournalist or just creating some new artwork.