Beekeeping Education

Beekeeping Vocabulary

This list was designed to facilitate better communication between beekeepers. It contains terms frequently used by beekeepers but is by no means complete

Abscond-when the entire colony of bees abandon the hive because of adverse conditions

After Swarm-swarms that leave after the first or prime swarm, usually have a virgin queen

Alarm pheromone-chemical released by a worker bee that alerts other bees to danger

Alcohol Wash-a method of monitoring varroa mites in the hive

American Foulbrood-a brood disease caused by a spore forming bacteria

Apiary-a location where bee hives are kept/bee yard

Apis mellifera-scientific name for the European honey bee

Balling-an attack on a queen by worker bees with intent to kill her by suffocation and overheating

Bearding-when bees congregate outside the front of the hive usually on hot days and evenings

Bee bread-fermented pollen that is stored in cells for use as high protein food for larvae and bees

Bottom board-the floor of a bee hive, screened or solid

Brood-immature bees in various stages of development; eggs, larvae, and pupae, before they have emerged from their cells

Brood chamber-the part of the hive where brood is reared, usually one or more hive bodies

Build up-the natural increase in population within a colony until peak population is reached

Capped brood-larvae cells that have been sealed with a brown wax cover to allow the larvae to turn into pupae. Resembles dark brown pie crust

Capped honey-honey that’s been fully ripened by bees and covered with a capping of wax

Carniolan-a race of honey bee usually dark brown to black

Cell-the hexagonal compartment of a comb

Checker boarding-a method of swarm control and hive management by alternating frames of capped honey and empty drawn comb above the brood nest in late winter, early spring

Chilled brood-immature bees that have died from exposure to cold

Cleansing flight-when bees fly out of the hive to defecate after a period of confinement

Colony Collapse Disorder- when most of the bees in a hive disappear leaving a queen, healthy brood, a few worker bees and plenty of honey stores

Comb-back-to-back collection of hexagonal cells that are made of beeswax to hold eggs, brood, pollen, and honey

Dearth-a period of time when there is no available forage due to weather conditions

Deep-(deep hive body), in Langstroth terms, a box that is 9 5/8 “deep holds 9 1/4'” frames

Double deeps-two deep boxes typically used for brood rearing and honey storage

Drawn comb-cells which have been built out by bees from foundation in a frame

Drawn out-when wax cells are built on a foundation base in a frame

Drifting-when bees enter hives other than their own. Young bees tend to drift more than older bees

Drone-the male honey bee which comes from an unfertilized egg

Drone comb-comb that is made up of cells larger than worker brood in which drones are reared

Drone brood-brood that matures into drones. It is larger than worker brood and dome shaped

Egg-the first phase in the bee life cycle laid by the queen-it resembles a small grain of rice

Entrance reducer-a wooden strip used to regulate the size of the entrance

European Foulbrood-an infectious disease that affects the brood caused by bacteria

Festooning-when bees hang on to each other leg-to-leg in a lacework pattern; also called chaining

Forage-natural food source of bees, (nectar and pollen), or the act of gathering that food

Foundation-a thin sheet of wax or plastic embossed with a pattern of hexagon shaped cells

Frame a wooden rectangle designed to hold plastic foundation or wax comb

Hive-a home for bees

Hive stand-a base support for the hive to keep it off the ground

Honey bound-a condition where the brood nest is being backfilled with honey. It shuts down the queen’s laying since there are no empty cells for her eggs

Honey super-a box used for honey production placed over the brood chamber; sometimes called mediums or shallows

Hot-(temperament), bees that are overly defensive or just plain mean!

Inner cover-a flat board with a ventilation hole that goes under a standard telescoping cover

Italian bees-a common race of gentle bees with brown and yellow bands, from Italy

Langstroth hive-the most commonly used movable frame hive designed by Rev. L.L. Langstroth

Larva-the second developmental stage of a bee starting the 4th day from when the egg was laid until it’s capped

Laying worker-a worker bee that lays eggs which can only develop into drones because they are unfertilized

Mating flight-the flight taken by a virgin queen while she mates in the air with several drones

Medium-refers to a box that is 65/8” in depth. Most often used for surplus honey storage

Nuc (nucleus hive)-a small hive that consists of fewer frames of bees, brood, and food (2-5 frames). Primarily used for starting new colonies or rearing queens

Orientation flights (play flights)-in the days preceding their first foraging flights, young bees emerge from the hive, fly a short distance, and hover back and forth facing the front entrance to acquaint themselves with their surroundings. Most often taken on warm, windless afternoons

Outer cover-the top cover that fits over the hive to protect it from weather. The most common are migratory, (fits flush with the hive edge), and telescoping, (telescopes over the edge)

Over-wintering-the process of survival during the winter months, during which the bees live on stores collected in the summer. Bees do not hibernate but maintain colony temperatures by clustering

Package bees-a quantity of adult bees (2 to 5 pounds), contained in a screened box. Usually come with a caged queen and a can of sugar syrup

Phoretic-(referring to Varroa mites), when they attach to adult bees instead of in the cells

Primary swarm-the first swarm to leave the parent colony, usually with the old queen

Propolis-sap or resin from trees or plants collected by bees to seal cracks; also called bee glue

Pupa-the third and final stage in a honey bee’s metamorphosis before it emerges as an adult bee

Queen-a mated female bee responsible for all the egg laying of a colony. The queen is longer and larger than a worker bee and is recognized by her special pheromones. There is usually only one queen

Queen cell-a special elongated cell resembling a peanut shell in which the queen is reared. It can be over an inch in length and hangs vertically from the comb

Queen excluder-a device used to confine the queen to specific parts of the hive while allowing worker bees to pass through. Usually used to keep her from laying eggs in honey supers

Queen right-a colony with a laying queen emitting pheromones that signal all is well to the workers

Robbing-stealing of honey by bees from other colonies. Happens more often during a dearth

Screened Bottom Board-a bottom board with screen instead of solid (usually #8 hardware cloth) to allow ventilation and to allow Varroa mites to fall through

Shallow-a smaller super box that is 5 11/16 deep or 5¾ deep with frames that are 5 ½ deep

Split-to divide a colony by removing frames of bees and brood to create a new colony

Sugar roll test-a technique for counting Varroa mites that is a non-lethal alternative to alcohol wash

Super-a box with frames placed above the brood nest for the bees to store surplus honey. (from Latin super meaning “above”)

Supering-the act of placing honey supers on a colony in expectation of a honey crop

Supersedure-the natural occurrence of a colony to replace an old or ailing queen with a new queen. Cells are usually in the middle of the frame. Sometime called emergency queen cells

Swarm-a natural propagation method (usually in the spring), to form a new colony. A collection of bees along with the queen will leave the original hive to establish a new one. Bees will leave behind about half of the original colony and the makings for a new queen

Swarm cell-queen cells usually found on the bottom of the combs before swarming

Ten frame-a box meant to hold ten frames. 16 ¼” wide

Top Bar Hive-a hive with only top bars and no frames that allow for movable comb

Uncapped brood-brood from one to five days old that has not been covered by brood cappings

Varroa mite-a destructive parasitic mite that gone undetected can wipe out a colony in one season

Winter cluster-bees form a tight ball within the middle of the hive to generate heat when the outside temperature drops below 50 degrees

Worker bees-an infertile female bee who is responsible for carrying out all the duties of the colony

Sue's Fondant Recipe For Winter Feeding

5 lb granulated sugar                                                                               10 lbs sugar=20 cups

1 pint water                                                                                                 5 lbs sugar=10 cups

1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice                                                       2.5 lbs sugar=5 cups

2-5 drops essential oil                                                                                1 lb sugar=2 cups

  1. Prepare molds in advance.  You can use paper plates, pie pans, or take-out boxes.  Spray lightly with oil and place on a flat surface.

  2. Measure the water and vinegar (or lemon juice) into a large pot and bring to a slow simmer.

  3. Pour in the sugar, stirring until it dissolves completely.  Keep stirring until you feel no "grits"in the water. If the sugar won't dissolve add more water, little by little, until all crystals disappear.

  4.  Once the sugar is completely dissolved, you can gently turn up the heat to medium high and stop stirring.  Insert your candy thermometer.  Because the crystals are gone, there is nothing to settle to the bottom and burn; the sugar is in solution.

  5. Boil the mixture until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F, then remove the pot from the heat. If you wish, you can test the candy at this point. Place a drop of syrup into a glass of cool water. Reach in and get the drop. The drop of candy should flatten and run down between your fingers.

  6. Set the pot aside to cool to about 200 degrees F. You can set the pot in a sink of ice water to speed the up process but it is not necessary.

  7. When the fondant reaches 200 degrees F You can then add a few drops of essential oils if desired.

  8. Pour the fondant into a standing mixer with a paddle attachment and slowly beat until the mixture turns light-colored and smooth. Alternatively, you may knead the fondant with your hands, but be careful of the heat.

  9. Divide the mixture into 8 or 10 paper plates and allow to cool completely.

  10. Once cool, wrap the fondant in plastic wrap or wax paper. You can store the fondant for several weeks in a cool place, or for longer in the freezer.

Late Winter Sugar/Pollen Substitute

5 lbs sugar

5-7 oz water

1/2-3/4 cups pollen substitute

  1. Mix dry ingredients

  2. Add water and mix until wet sand consistency

  3. Pat out onto parchment paper in tray; score into blocks while we

  4. Let dry 24-48 hours