Beekeeping Glossary


Apiary = A bee yard.

Apiarist = A beekeeper.

Apiculture = The science and art of raising honey bees.


Brood = Immature bees not yet emerged from their cells; in other words, egg, larvae or pupae.

Brood chamber = The part of the hive in which the brood is reared; may include one or more hive bodies and the combs within. Sometimes used to refer to a deep box as these are commonly used for brood.

Burr comb = Small pieces of comb outside of the normal space in the frame where comb usually is. Brace comb would fall into this category.


Capped brood = Immature bees whose cells have been sealed over with a brown wax cover by other worker bees.

Cappings = The thin wax covering over honey; once cut off of extracting frames.

Cell = The hexagonal compartment of a honey comb.

Colony = The aggregate of worker bees, drones, queen, and developing brood living together as a family unit in a hive or other dwelling

Colony Collapse Disorder = A recently named problem where most of the bees in most of the hives in an apiary disappear leaving a queen, healthy brood and only a few bees in the hive with plenty of stores.

Comb = The wax portion of a colony in which eggs are laid, and honey and pollen are stored shaped like hexagons.

Comb foundation = A commercially made structure consisting of thin sheets of beeswax with the cell bases of worker cells embossed on both sides to induce the bees to build a particular size of cells.


Drone = The male honeybee which comes from an unfertilized egg (and is therefore haploid) laid by a queen or less commonly, a laying worker.

Drone comb = Comb that is made up of cells larger than worker brood, usually in the range of 5.9 to 7.0mm in which drones are reared and honey and pollen are stored.

Drone brood = Brood, which matures into drones, reared in cells larger than worker brood. It is noticeably larger than worker brood and the cappings are distinctly dome shaped.


Eggs = The first phase in the bee life cycle, usually laid by the queen, is the cylindrical egg 1/16in (1.6 mm) long; it is enclosed with a flexible shell or chorion. It resembles a small grain of rice.

Entrance reducer = A wooden strip used to regulate the size of the entrance.


Foundation = Thin sheets of beeswax embossed or stamped with the base of a worker (or rarely drone) cells on which bees will construct a complete comb (called drawn comb); also referred to as comb foundation, it comes wired or unwired and also in plastic as well as one piece foundations and frames as well as different thicknesses (thin surplus, surplus, medium) and different cell sizes (brood =5.4mm, small cell = 4.9mm, drone=6.6mm).

Frame = A rectangular structure of wood designed to hold honey comb, consisting of a top bar, two end bars, and a bottom bar; usually spaced a bee-space apart in the super.


Grafting = Removing a worker larva from its cell and placing it in an artificial queen cup in order to have it reared into a queen.

Guard bees = Worker bees about three weeks old, which have their maximum amount of alarm pheromone and venom; they challenge all incoming bees and other intruders.


Hive = A home for a colony of bees.

Hive body = A wooden box containing frames. Usually referring to the size of box being used for brood.

Hive stand = A structure serving as a base support for a beehive; it helps in extending the life of the bottom board by keeping it off damp ground. Hive stands may be built from treated lumber, cedar, bricks, concrete blocks etc.

Honey = A sweet viscid material produced by bees from the nectar of flowers, composed largely of a mixture of dextrose and levulose dissolved in about 17 percent water; contains small amounts of sucrose, mineral matter, vitamins, proteins, and enzymes.

Honey extractor = A machine which removes honey from the cells of comb by centrifugal force.

Honey flow = A time when enough nectar-bearing plants are blooming such that bees can store a surplus of honey.


Inner cover = An insulating cover fitting on top of the top super but underneath the outer cover, with an oblong hole in the center. Used to be called a “quilt board”. In the old days these were often made of cloth.


Landing board = A small platform at the entrance of the hive for the bees to land on before entering the hive.

Langstroth hive = The basic hive design of L.L. Langstroth. In modern terms any hive that takes frames that have a 19″ top bar and fit into a box 19 7/8″ long. Widths vary from five frame nucs to eight frame boxes to ten frame boxes and from Dadant deeps, Langstroth deeps, Mediums, Shallows and Extra Shallow. But all would still be Langstroths. This would distinguish them from WBC, Smith, National DE etc.

Larva, open = The second developmental stage of a bee, starting the 4th day from when the egg is layed until it’s capped on about the 9th or 10th day.

Larva, capped = The second developmental stage of a bee, ready to pupate or spin its cocoon (about the 10th day from the egg).

Lemon Grass essential oil = Essential oil used for swarm lure.


Marking = Painting a small dot of enamel on the back of the thorax of a queen to make her easier to identify and so you can tell if she has been superseded.

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


Nectar = A liquid rich in sugars, manufactured by plants and secreted by nectary glands in or near flowers; the raw material for honey.

Nuc, nuclei, nucleus = A small colony of bees often used in queen rearing or the box in which the small colony of bees resides. The term refers to the fact that the essentials, bees, brood, food, a queen or the means to make one, are there for it to grow into a colony, but it is not a full sized colony.

Nurse bees = Young bees, usually three to ten days old, which feed and take care of developing brood.


Observation Hive = A hive made largely of glass or clear plastic to permit observation of bees at work.

Outer cover = The last cover that fits over a hive to protect it from rain; the two most common kinds are telescoping and migratory covers.


Pollen = The dust-like male reproductive cells (gametophytes) of flowers, formed in the anthers, and important as a protein source for bees; pollen is essential for bees to rear brood.

Propolis = Plant resins collected, mixed with enzymes from bee saliva and used to fill in small spaces inside the hive and to coat and sterilize everything in the hive. It has antimicrobial properties.


Queen = A fully developed female bee responsible for all the egg laying of a colony.

Queen cell = A special elongated cell resembling a peanut shell in which the queen is reared; usually over an inch in length, it hangs vertically from the comb.

Queen excluder = A device made of wire, wood or zinc (or any combination thereof) having openings of .163 to .164 inch, which permits workers to pass but excludes queens and drones; used to confine the queen to a specific part of the hive, usually the brood nest.


Raw honey = Honey that has not been finely filtered or heated.

Requeen = To replace an existing queen by removing her and introducing a new queen.

Royal jelly = A highly nutritious, milky white secretion of the hypopharyngeal gland of nurse bees; used to feed the queen and young larvae.


Scout bees = Worker bees searching for a new source of pollen, nectar, propolis, water, or a new home for a swarm of bees.

Small Hive Beetle = A recently imported pest whose larvae will destroy comb and ferment honey.

Smoker = A metal container with attached bellows which burns organic fuels to generate smoke; used to control aggressive behavior of bees during colony inspections.

Split = To divide a colony for the purpose of increasing the number of hives.

Starter hive (aka a Swarm box) = A box of shaken bees used to start queen cells.

Sugar syrup = Feed for bees, containing sucrose or table (cane or beet) sugar and hot water in various ratios. Usually 1:1 in the spring and 2:1 in the fall.

Super = A box with frames in which bees store honey; usually placed above the brood nest.

Supersedure = Rearing a new queen to replace the mother queen in the same hive; shortly after the daughter queen begins to lay eggs, the mother queen often disappears.

Swarm = A temporary collection of bees, containing at least one queen that split apart from the mother colony to establish a new one; a natural method of propagation of honey bee colonies.

Swarm cell = Queen cells usually found on the bottom of the combs before swarming.

Swarming = The natural method of propagation of the honey bee colony.

Swarming season = The time of year, usually late spring to early summer, when swarms usually issue.


Telescopic cover = A cover with a rim that hangs down all the way around it usually used with a inner cover under it.

Top Bar Hive = A hive with only top bars and no frames that allows for movable comb without as much carpentry or expense.


Uncapping knife = A knife used to shave off the cappings of sealed honey prior to extraction; hot water, steam or electricity can heat the knives.

Uncapping tank = A container over which frames of honey are uncapped; usually strains out the honey which is then collected.


Veil = A protective netting that covers the face and neck; allows ventilation, easy movement and good vision while protecting the primary targets of guard bees.

Virgin queen = An unmated queen bee.


Worker bees = Infertile female bee whose reproductive organs are only partially developed, responsible for carrying out all the routine of the colony.

Glossary made with the help of Bush Farms –


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