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Abdomen – the third region of the body of a bee enclosing the honey stomach, true stomach, intestine, sting, and reproductive organs.

Absconding swarm – an entire colony of bees that abandons the hive because of disease, wax moth, excessive heat or water, lack of resources, or other reasons.

Acarine disease – The name of the disease caused by the tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi). See Tracheal mite.

Afterswarm – a small swarm which may leave the hive after the first or primary swarm has departed. These afterswarms usually have less bees associated with them than the primary swarm.

American foulbrood – a brood disease of honey bees caused by the spore-forming bacterium, Paenibacillus larvae. The spore stage of the bacterium can remain viable for many years, making is difficult to eliminate the disease.

Apiary – colonies, hives, and other equipment assembled in one location for beekeeping operations; also known as a bee yard.

Apiculture – the science and art of raising honey bees.

Apis mellifera – scientific name of the honey bee found in the United States.

Paenibacillus larvae – the bacterium that causes American foulbrood.

Bee blower – an engine with attached blower used to dislodge bees from combs in a honey super by creating a high-velocity, high-volume wind.

Bee bread – a mixture of collected pollen and nectar or honey, deposited in the cells of a comb to be used as food by the bees.

Bee brush – a brush or whisk broom used to gently remove bees from combs.

Bee escape – a device used to remove bees from honey supers or buildings by permitting bees to pass one way but preventing their return.

Beehive – a box or receptacle with movable frames, used for housing a colony of bees.

Bee metamorphosis – the three stages through which a bee passes before reaching maturity: egg, larva, and pupa. During the pupal stage, large fat reserves are used to transform both the internal and external anatomy of the bee.

Bee space – 3/8-inch space between combs and hive parts in which bees build no comb or deposit only a small amount of propolis. Bee spaces are used as corridors to move within the hive.

Beeswax – a complex mixture of organic compounds secreted by four pairs of special glands on the worker bee’s abdomen and used for building comb. Its melting point is from 143.6 to 147.2 degrees F.

Bee veil – a cloth or form of hat usually made of wire netting to protect the beekeeper’s head and neck from stings.

Bee venom – the poison secreted by special glands attached to the stinger of the bee.

Boardman feeder – a device for feeding bees that consists of an inverted jar with an attachment allowing access to the hive entrance.

Bottom board – the floor of a beehive that all the other components build upon.

Brace comb – a small bit of wax built between two combs or frames to fasten them together. Brace comb is also built between a comb and adjacent wood, or between two wooden parts such as top bars.

Braula coeca – the scientific name of a wingless fly commonly known as the bee louse.

Brood – immature bees that not yet emerged from their cells. Brood can be in the form of eggs, larvae, or pupae of different ages.

Brood chamber – the part of the hive in which the brood is reared; may include one or more hive bodies and the combs within.


Burr comb – a bit of wax built upon a comb or upon a wooden part in a hive but not connected to any other part.

Capped brood – pupae whose cells have been sealed with a porous cover by mature bees to isolate them during their nonfeeding pupal period; also called sealed brood.

Cappings – a thin layer of wax used to cover the full cells of honey. This layer of wax is sliced from the surface of a honey-filled comb.

Castes – a term used to describe social insects of the same species and sex that differ in morphology or behavior. In honey bees there are two castes, workers and queens. The drones are a different sex and therefore not included.

Cell – the hexagonal compartment of comb built by honeybees.

Chilled brood – Bee larvae and pupae that have died from exposure to cold. This typically occurs in spring when the colony is expanding rapidly and on cold nights there aren’t enough bees to keep the brood warm.

Chunk honey – honey cut from frames and placed in jars along with liquid honey.

Clarifying – removing visible foreign material from honey or wax to increase its purity.

Clarifying Tank – any tank or holding vessel that is use to temporarily store honey while the wax and other material separate from the honey.

Cluster – a large group of bees hanging together, one upon another.

Colony – all the worker bees, drones, queen, and developing brood living together in one hive or other dwelling.

Comb – a mass of six-sided cells made by honey bees in which brood is reared and honey and pollen are stored; composed of two layers united at their bases.

Comb foundation – a commercially made structure consisting of thin sheets of beeswax with the cell bases of worker cells embossed on both sides in the same manner as they are produced naturally by honey bees.

Comb honey – honey produced and sold in the comb. It is produced either by cutting the comb from the frame or when the comb is built in special frames which allow for its easy removal.

Creamed honey – honey which has crystallized under controlled conditions to produce a tiny crystal and a smooth texture. Often a starter or seed is used to help control the crystallization.

Crimp-wired foundation – comb foundation which crimp wire is embedded vertically during the manufacturing of the foundation. The wire increases the strength of the foundation.

Cross-pollination – the transfer of pollen from an anther of one plant to the stigma of a different plant of the same species.

Crystallization – the formation of sugar crystals in honey. Syn. Granulation

Cut-comb honey – comb honey cut into various sizes, the edges drained, and the pieces wrapped or packed individually

Decoy hive – a hive placed to attract stray swarms.

Dextrose – one of the two principal sugars found in honey; forms crystals during granulation. Also known as glucose.

Dividing – separating a colony to form two or more colonies.

Division board feeder – a wooden or plastic compartment which is hung in a hive like a frame and contains feed for bees.

Double screen – a wooden frame with two layers of wire screen to separate two colonies within the same hive, one above the other. An entrance is cut on the upper side and placed to the rear of the hive for the upper colony.

Drawn combs – cells which have been built out by honey bees from foundation in a frame.

Drifting of bees – the failure of bees to return to their own hive in an apiary containing many colonies. Young bees tend to drift more than older bees, and bees from small colonies tend to drift into larger colonies.

Drone – the male honey bee

Drone comb – comb measuring about four cells per linear inch that is used for drone rearing and honey storage.

Drone layer – an infertile or unmated laying queen or worker.

Dysentery – a condition of adult bees characterized by severe diarrhea and usually caused by starvation, low-quality food,, confinement due to poor weather conditions, or nosema infection.

European foulbrood – an infectious disease which only affects the brood of honey bees and is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pluton.

Extracted honey – honey removed from the comb.

Extractor – a machine which removes honey from the cells of comb by centrifugal force.

Fermentation – the process of yeast utilizing sugar as a food, and as a byproduct, produce alcohol. Honey typically does not have enough moisture for fermentation to occur.

Fertile queen – a queen, which has been inseminated, naturally or artificially, and can lay fertilized eggs.

Field bees – worker bees generally two to three weeks old that work to collect nectar, pollen, water, and propolis for the colony.

Follower board – a thin board the size of a frame that can be inserting into a hive to reduce the space available to the bees. This is done to help smaller colonies that may have trouble keeping the brood nest warm.

Frame – a piece of equipment made of either wood or plastic designed to hold the honey comb.

Fructose – the predominant simple sugar found in honey.

Fume board – a rectangular cover the size of a super which has an absorbent material on the underside. A chemical is placed on the material to drive the bees out of supers for honey removal.

Fumigilin-B – an antibiotic used in the prevention and suppression of nosema disease.

Glucose – see “Dextrose.”

Grafting – removing a worker larva from its cell and placing it in a queen cup in order to have it reared into a queen.

Grafting tool – a needle or probe designed for transferring larvae from worker cells to a queen cells.

Granulation – the formation of sugar crystals in honey which may cause it to turn solid.

Hive – the structure used by bees for a home.

Hive body – a wooden box which encloses the frames and is usually used as a brood chamber.

Hive stand – a structure that supports the hive.

Hive tool – a metal device used to open hives, pry frames apart, and scrape wax and propolis from the hive parts.

Honey – a sweet viscid material produced by bees from the nectar of flowers, composed largely of a mixture of sugars dissolved in about 17 percent water. It contains small amounts of mineral matter, vitamins, proteins, and enzymes.

Honeydew – a sweet liquid excreted by aphids, leaflhoppers, and some scale insects that is collected by bees, especially in the absence of a good source of nectar.

Honey house – building used for extracting honey and storing equipment.

Honey stomach – a specially designed organ in the abdomen of the honey bee used for carrying nectar, honey, or water.

Increase – to add to the number of colonies, usually by dividing those on hand.

Inner cover – a lightweight cover used under a standard telescoping cover on a beehive.

Instrumental insemination – the introduction of drone spermatozoa into the genital organs of a virgin queen by means of special instruments.

Invertase – an enzyme produced by the honey bee which helps to transform sucrose to dextrose and levulose.

Larva (plural, larvae) – the second stage of bee metamorphosis; a white, legless, grublike insect.

Laying worker – a worker which lays infertile eggs, producing only drones, usually in colonies that are hopelessly queenless.

Levulose – see “Fructose.”

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

Mead – honey wine.

Migratory beekeeping – the moving of colonies of bees from one locality to another during a single season to take advantage of two or more honey flows.

Nectar – a sweet and often fragrant liquid secreted by the nectaries of plants for attracting animals. Nectar is the raw product of honey.

Nectar flow – a time when nectar is plentiful and bees produce and store surplus honey.

Nectar guide – color marks on flowers believed to direct insects to nectar sources.

Nectaries – the glands of plants which secrete nectar, located within the flower or on other portions of the plant (extrafloral nectaries).

Nosema – a disease of the adult honey bee caused by the protozoan Nosema apis. The microbe destroys the gut of the bee and severe infections result in malnutrition and dysentery.

Nucleus – a hive of bees which consists of fewer frames than a typical hive and may be smaller in size. A nucleus usually consists of two to five frames of comb and used primarily for starting new colonies or rearing or storing queens; also called and commonly referred to a nuc.

Nurse bees – young bees, 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 allow for the observation of bees at work.

Package bees – a quantity of adult bees (2 to 5 pounds), with or without a queen, contained in a screened shipping cage with a food source.

PDB (Paradichlorobenzene) – crystals used to fumigate stored combs against wax moth.

Pheromones – chemical substances secreted from glands and used as a means of communication. Honey bees secrete many different pheromones.

Play flight – short flight taken in front of or near the hive to acquaint young bees with their immediate surroundings.

Pollen – the male reproductive cell bodies produced by anthers of flowers. It is collected and used by honey bees as their source of protein.

Pollen basket – a flattened depression surrounded by curved hairs, located on the outer surface of a bee’s hind legs and adapted for carrying pollen to the hive.

Pollen substitute – any material such as soybean flour, powdered skim milk, brewer’s yeast, or a mixture of these used in place of pollen as a source of protein to stimulate brood rearing. Typically feed to a hive in early spring to encourage colony expansion.

Pollen supplement – a mixture of pollen and pollen substitutes used to stimulate brood rearing typically in early spring to encourage colony expansion.

Pollen trap – a device for removing pollen loads from the pollen baskets of incoming bees.

Pollination – the transfer of pollen from the anthers to the stigrna of flowers.

Primary swarm – the first swarm to leave the parent colony, usually with the old queen (see secondary swarm).

Propolis – sap or resinous materials collected from trees or plants by bees and used to strengthen the comb and to seal cracks; also called bee glue.

Pupa – the third stage in the development of the honey bee, during which it changes (pupates) from a larva to an adult bee.

Queen – a female bee with a fully developed reproductive system, and she is larger and longer than a worker bee.

Queen cage – a small cage in which a queen and three to five worker bees are confined for shipping and introduction into a colony.

Queen cell – a special elongated cell in which the queen is reared. It is above an inch or more long and hangs down from the comb in a vertical position.

Queen clipping – removing a portion of one or both front wings of a queen to prevent her from flying.

Queen excluder – metal or plastic device with spaces that permit the passage of workers but restrict the movement of drones and queens to a specific part of the hive.

Robbing – stealing of nectar, or honey, by bees from other colonies which happens more often during a nectar dearth.

Royal jelly – a highly nutritious glandular secretion of young bees, used to feed the queen and young brood.

Sacbrood – a viral disease which affects the larva of honey bees.

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

Secondary swarm – a smaller swarm which may occur after the primary swarm has occurred.

Skep – a beehive made of twisted straw without movable frames.

Slatted rack – a wooden rack that fits between the bottom board and hive body. Bees make better use of the lower brood chamber with increased brood rearing. Congestion at the front entrance is reduced which can also reduce the swarming tendency.

Slumgum – the refuse from melted comb and cappings after the wax has been rendered or removed.

Smoker – a device in which materials are slowly burned to produce smoke (not flames) which is used to subdue bees. It is important to use a material that produces a cool smoke as not to harm the bees.

Solar wax melter – a glass-covered insulated box used to melt wax from combs and cappings by the heat of the sun.

Spur embedder – a handheld device used for embedding wires into foundation with the purpose of reinforcing the foundation.

Stinger – the modified structure of a worker honey bee used as a weapon of offense. Honey bees have a barbed stinger which stays embedded in the recipient of sting cause the bee to later die.

Streptococcus pluton – bacteria that cause European foulbrood.

Sucrose – principal sugar found in nectar.

Super – any hive body, or smaller box, used for the storage of surplus honey which the beekeeper will harvest. Normally it is placed over or above the brood chamber. Betterbee offers shallow, medium, and deep supers.

Supersedure – the natural replacement of an established queen by a newly reared queen in the same hive.

Surplus honey – honey removed from the hive which exceeds that needed by bees for their own use.

Swarm – a large number of worker bees, drones, and usually the old queen that leaves the parent colony to establish a new colony.

Swarming – the natural process of propagating a colony of honey bees.

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

Terramycin – an antibiotic used to prevent American and European foulbrood.

Uncapping knife – a knife used to shave or remove the cappings from combs of sealed honey prior to extraction. These can be heated by steam or electricity.

Uniting – combining two or more colonies to form one larger colony.

Virgin queen – a queen which is not mated.

Wax glands – glands that secrete beeswax, which are in pairs on the underside of the last four abdominal segments.

Wax moth – larvae of the moth Golleria mellonclia, which can seriously damage brood and empty combs.

Winter cluster – a ball-like arrangement of adult bees within the hive during winter.

Worker bee – a female bee whose reproductive organs are undeveloped. The majority of the honey bees are worker bees and they do all the work in the colony except for laying fertile eggs.

Worker comb – comb measuring about five cells to the inch, in which workers are reared and honey and pollen are stored.