Below is a list of commonly used words and phrases pertaining to beekeeping. Keep this list of beekeeping terms handy your first year!
Want to know what to expect your first year of beekeeping? Check out 2022 Beekeeping Journal.
apiary: a bee yard where a beekeeper keeps beehives.
Apivar strips: a product for treating mites in the hive.
attendants: approximately a dozen specialized worker bees that surround the queen and take care of all her daily needs so that she can spend her time laying eggs.
bearding: This term is used to describe hundreds of bees hanging out on the outside of the hive, usually occurring during hot temperatures as a way to cool off.
brood: bee babies 👶🏻
candy board: a wooden board consisting of hardened sugar (carbohydrates), water, and optional vitamins that is placed on top of the hive and fed to colonies during fall and winter when naturally occurring sources of nectar are less available.
capped honey or capped brood: honey comb or brood comb that has been sealed by the bees using a thin layer of wax.
comb: This is the waxy substance with a hexagonal shape. How the comb is used is entirely up to the bees; they decide whether the comb is used to raise brood or produce honey.
deeps: or deep boxes refers to the largest of the boxes that usually houses all the bees and frames of brood. “Double deeps” refers to 2 of these large boxes placed one on top of the other.
“drawn” wax: comb that has been created by the bees and filled onto a frame.
drones: male bees
frames: wooden structures where bees build comb for honey or for brood
honey flow or nectar flow: refers to the time of year in a certain geographical area where there are abundant sources for nectar and when bees are gathering nectar to produce honey.
hygienic queens: queens that are bred to be more resistant to mites than traditional queens.
nuc: a small cluster (nucleus) of bees, usually obtained when starting to keep bees. A “nuc” can refer to the actual bees themselves or the container they’re in, like the one below. The bees in a nuc have already started building comb and rearing brood on 5 frames. This is one of the fastest, albeit expensive, ways to start keeping bees. A nuc typically costs $150-$200.
nurse bee: a nurse bee cares for the brood by feeding and checking on each larva for 8 days until the brood is capped, at which time it continues to grow before hatching. Next to larvae, these are the youngest bees in the hive.
orientation flights: these hovering maneuvers are necessary for each newly foraging bee to know the exact location of the hive.
oxalic acid: a product for treating mites in the hive.
pollen patty: a patty made of substitute pollen (protein) and water that is fed to hives during fall and winter when naturally occurring sources of pollen are less available.
queen cell: A larger cell, shaped like a peanut, usually found at the bottom of a frame. Worker bees may choose to grow a new queen for a few reasons: the queen is dead or non-existent, the queen is in poor health and not laying well, or the colony is preparing to swarm.
queen excluder: Like the name suggests, the excluder keeps the queen out of certain parts of the hive, determined by the beekeeper. A queen is a little larger than the other bees in the hive and can’t squeeze through this metal (or plastic) grid frame.
split: A controlled event by a beekeeper in which the keeper divides the colony into two to keep the colony from swarming because they are running out of room in the hive.
super: A small box placed on top of deep boxes that usually holds frames designed for honey collection.
swarm: An uncontrolled event by a colony in which the colony decides to divide themselves into two because they have run out of space in the hive. Also refers to the actual collection of bees that has left. (“I saw a swarm in the sky!”)
swarming: The action of a colony of bees that is leaving the current colony in search for more space. (“The bees are swarming!”)
For more information regarding honey bees, see University of Georgia’s Honey Bee Program page here.
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