Beekeeping vocab!


Honey bee on the lavender at Denbies.

Honey bee on the lavender at Denbies.

I don’t know about most of you out there, but there’s quite a bit of subject-specific terminology around beekeeping. We’re still very new to it, and I think the Old Boar himself probably knows more than I do as he’s the one who’s done the most reading! So for those of you that, like me, don’t really know what a lot of beekeeping terms mean, here a short (and by no mean inexhaustible!) list of what I’ve come across so far:

Apiary: The name for the place where bees are kept

Beek(s): What those in the hobby sometimes call themselves!

Bee space: There is a certain amount of space that in a natural environment bees will allow for themselves between combs, usually enough for two worker bees to fit back to back. In a modern hive, the beekeeper ensures frames have enough bee space in between them, otherwise the bees will simply join the frames together, making them difficult to remove and examine.

Brood: Eggs, larvae and pupae that are still in their cells in the comb

Brood box/chamber: The part of the hive where the queen lays her eggs and the brood is raised, usually on the bottom of the hive

Drone: A male bee

Cap: The covering over the top of a cell in the comb

Cast: A smaller, secondary swarm that may occur after the main swarm of a colony

Foulbrood: A serious disease that affects bee colonies and is transmissable to others, and if you have a colony with this you need to notify the bee inspectors.

Foundation: The thin beeswax sheet many beekeepers put into a frame to encourage the bees to “draw out” into comb more quickly and to make straight comb

Frame: The part of a hive in which the bees build their comb

Laying worker(s): Workers that have begun laying eggs, which usually only happens when the colony has lost its queen (for whatever reason), but there are always a few laying workers in every hive. This is a problem because workers are only able to produce drones, and are unable to produce viable queens or more worker bees, meaning that there are no new worker bees to replace those that die. Eventually, all the bees in the hive will die from old age and the colony will die out unless something is done

Queen cells (QC): Cells in the comb where the queens grow

Queen excluder: A mesh that prevents the queen from moving into the top part of the hive, but has holes small enough for the worker bees to pass through. Used to make sure that the super is only used for storing honey, and not for raising brood!

Queenless (Q-): A colony that has no queen

Queen right (Q+): A colony that has a queen

Super: The additional box placed on top of the brood box, where the bees will (hopefully!) store their honey

Varroa: A horrible little parasite that feeds on bees and can render them susceptible to all kinds of diseases

Feel free to add more in the comments!

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