bee glossary

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--  A  --

Abdomen: Segmented posterior, or third region, of an insect; in the honey bee it contains the heart, honey stomach, intestines, reproductive organs and sting.

Abscond: The act of a colony of bees that leave the hive in entirety due to undesirable causes such as heat, pest infestation or other reasons.

Acarapis woodi (Rennie): Scientific name of parasitic acarine mite, which infests tracheae of bees (entering through thoratic spiracle) during its complete life cycle. Mite interferes with oxygen intake and feeds on blood of host; can not be seen with naked eye. Honey bees suffering from tracheal mite infestation are usually treated with extender patties or menthol. Sometimes referenced to "Isle of Wight Disease". Development in breeding resistance to tracheal mites in honey bees has been in progress for some time, significant strides with some races and strains have been achieved. (Also reference Sticky board).

Africanized honey bee (AHB): Descendants of bees introduced to Brazil from the African strain, Apis mellifera adansonii, escaped a testing facility in 1956 and have migrated through South America, Mexico and have been found in southwestern areas of the United States. Africanized honey bees are more aggressive than domestic honey bees, requiring less disturbance to initiate defensive stinging, sting in greater numbers and travel farther in pursuit of an enemy. Africanized honey bees also abscond or swarm more readily than domestic honey bees.

Afterswarm: Swarms that leave the parent hive after a primary swarm has already left. Strong colonies have been known to swarm several times, usually in spring, as queens emerge from their queen cells.

Alarm odor: The pheromone substance, iso-pentyl acetate, released by worker bees that alert other bees of danger.

American foulbrood (AFB): Contagious disease of bee larvae caused by Bacillus larvae. American foulbrood identified by off-color sunken (or punctured) brood caps; brood remains usually laying straight in cell and stretching with a "rope-like" appearance when a small stick or wooden match is inserted and withdrawn, and foul odor resembling rotting fruit. Hives verified to contain American foulbrood disease should be exterminated, frames of comb burned and supers scorched or treated before re-using. American foulbrood spores remain viable for over 35 years. Prevention with antibiotic Terramycin® is usually done in spring and fall.

Antennae: Slender jointed feelers, which bear certain sensory organs, located on the head of insects.

Anther: Part of plant flower that develops and contains pollen.

Apiarist: Beekeeper.

Apiary: Group of bee colonies in one location (bee yard).

Apiculture: The science and art of studying and raising honey bees.

Apis: Genus to which honey bees belong.

Apis mellifera: Scientific name of the common domestic honey bee.

Apistan(TM): Apistan(TM), or Apistan(TM) strips, are plastic strips that have been impregnated with fluvalinate, and are hung between frames in the brood nest area. As Varroa mites in some areas are beginning to show resistance to fluvalinate, it is imperative that beekeepers follow instructions for the proper use of Apistan(TM) strips. (Reference Varroa jacobsoni).

Apitherapy: The practice of using bee venom in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism or other medical conditions for relief from some or all of the effects of those conditions. Apitherapy practices are still being researched.

Artificial Insemination: The mechanical introduction of selected drone spermatozoa into the genital organs of a virgin queen using special instruments. The queen is anesthetized with CO2 to prevent delay in initial laying.

Attendant bees: Worker bees that have been added to a queen cage to care for and feed the queen during shipment, and until release. Usually 6-8 attendant bees accompany queen in cage.

--  B  --

Bacillus larvae: Bacterial organism causing American foulbrood.

Bait hive: A box, often the size of a deep (9 1/8 inch) super and made of compressed fiber or pulp, used to capture swarms of feral (wild) honey bees.

Balling: The clustering around an unacceptable queen by worker bees to form a tight ball, pulling at her legs and wings. Usually the queen is injured or killed when balled.

Bee blower: A motorized device, similar to leaf blowers, using forced air to blow bees from supers when harvesting honey. Often used by commercial beekeepers.

Bee bread: Stored pollen in comb.

Bee brush: A soft, long-bristled brush with nylon bristles set in a flat brush approximately 14 inches long (handle included); used to brush bees from face of comb. Often used when transferring frames of brood from one colony to another, or harvesting honeycomb. (Reference Shake).

Bee dance: The movement of a worker bee on comb as a means of communication. Usually, the same movement is repeated over and over, and is used to direct other bees to sources of nectar, available hive location (while swarm is clustered), etc. More common dances that have been named are Round Dance, Crescent Dance and Wag-tail Dance.

Bee escape: Device to let bees pass in only one direction; usually inserted between supers of honey and brood nest when harvesting honey to clear supers of bees, or remove bees from buildings. Common types are the Porter and Conical Board bee escapes.

Bee forage: (See Bee pasture).

Bee glue: (See Propolis).

Bee gum: (See Gum hive).

Bee lining: The practice of following bees back to their hive; used in the past to locate and capture feral colonies of bees. Honey bees were captured in the field, placed in a box with a source of watered-down honey, allowed to fill their honey stomach and released. The bee "liner" would wait for bees to return to the honey source and plot a course in the direction of the departing bees based on the time is took the bees to return.

Bee louse: A relatively harmless insect that gets on honey bees, but larvae can damage honeycomb. Scientific name is Braula coeca Nitzch.

Bee pasture: Wild and cultivated plants, bushes and trees that supply forage for bees with nectar and/or pollen.

Bee space: Amount of space acceptable to bee, neither too narrow (under about 3/16-1/4 inch) or too wide (over 3/8 inch), found between combs and discovered by Rev. L.L. Langstroth.

Bee suit: Usually a pair of white or light-colored overalls, and worn when working around bee hives; often constructed with attached zipper for securing bee veils to suit.

Bee tree: A hollow tree occupied by a feral colony of bees.

Bee veil: A wire or cloth netting used by beekeepers to cover the head and neck, preventing bees from stinging those areas.

Bee venom: Poison of proteins and other complex chemicals injected by bee sting.

Bee venom allergy: Term usually applied to severe allergic reactions to bee stings, which can result in excessive swelling, impaired breathing, dizziness and may include anaphylactic shock. On average, two out of 10,000 people suffer from severe allergic reactions to bee stings.

Bee venom therapy: (See Apitherapy).

Bee yard: (See Apiary).

Bee-haver: A term used to describe a person that "has" bees, but does not "keep" them responsibly. Unlike a beekeeper, a "bee-haver" neglects the proper care and management of their bees, often leading to careless occurrences of damage, nuisance or spread of honey bee diseases and pests.

Beehive: (See hive).

Beekeeper: A person that keeps bees, and properly cares for their well-being through timely and correct management procedures.

Beekeeper's year: A beekeeper's year starts in the fall, usually August, with the checking of colonies to ensure they are headed by a good queen, and have adequate stores (feeding if necessary) to take them through the winter. As the quality of the colony is vital for successful wintering, most beekeepers consider fall the "beginning" of the season; strong colonies coming out of winter usually provide for maximum harvests in spring and summer nectar flows. The winter is spent repairing equipment, ordering supplies and queens for spring. Early spring is when most beekeepers check their colonies to see how they faired, feeding/medicating colonies and gathering hives of colonies that may have died out over winter for cleaning. Spring is spent managing colonies for maximum brood production, making splits, capturing swarms, etc. Summer winds down the season with harvesting the surplus honey crop, extracting and packaging/bottling honey, and medicating colonies against mites and disease if necessary.

Beeswax: Wax secreted from four pairs of glands on the underside of a worker bee's abdomen. Bees mold secreted wax flakes to form honeycomb. The melting point of beeswax is approximately 148° Fahrenheit.

Boardman (entrance) feeder: A wooden or plastic receptacle that holds an upside-down jar with small holes punched in the lid, allowing bees to enter receptacle and feed on syrup from lid of jar; usually placed at the hive entrance.

Bottom board: Floor or base of beehive; usually has rails on three sides of 3/8 or 3/4 inches in height. Supers are placed on top of bottom board. Non-railed side acts as entrance to hive.

Bottom supering: The practice of placing empty honey supers below other honey supers already on the hive. Beekeepers managing colonies for comb honey production often utilize bottom supering to minimize "travel stain" on cappings. A queen excluder is used to prevent the queen from laying eggs in the super as its placement is usually right above the brood nest. (Also reference Top supering).

Brace comb: Section of comb built between and attached to other combs, walls or tops of hives.

Braula coeca Nitzch: (See Bee louse).

Breathing pores: (See Spiracles).

Brood: Immature or developing stages of bees; includes eggs, larvae (unsealed brood) and pupae (sealed brood).

Brood chamber: Section of hive where the brood is reared; usually the lowermost hive bodies; and food may be stored.

Brood nest: Area of hive where bees are densely clustered and brood is reared.

Brood rearing: Raising of bees from egg stage.

Buckfast bee: Strain of bee originally bred and developed by Br. Adam at Buckfast Abbey, and known for its resistance to Acarapis woodi (tracheal mite).

Burr comb: Comb built out from wood frame or comb, but usually unattached on one end.

--  C  --

Cap: Covering of comb cell used to seal brood or honey.

Capped brood: Brood in pupa stage with cells sealed with beeswax cover.

Capped honey: Honey stored in sealed cells.

Cappings: Thin beeswax covering over sealed cells of honey that have been removed prior to extracting. May also refer to cell coverings over brood.

Cappings scratcher: A handled tool with multiple long teeth used to "scratch" or open cappings on honeycomb, allowing for removal of honey; usually used in conjunction with decapping knife or machine to reach missed or low areas on comb surface.

Carniolan bee: Gentle grayish-black bee originally from Carniolan Mountains in or near Austria. Scientific name is Apis mellifera carnica.

Caucasian bee: Gentle black bee originally from Caucasus area of Russia; noted for its heavy propolizing characteristics. Scientific name is Apis mellifera caucasica.

Cell: Single unit of space in comb in which honey or pollen is stored, or bee can be raised; worker cells are about 25 cells per square inch of comb, drone cells are about 18 per square inch.

Cell cup: Queen cell base and part of sides.

Chalkbrood: A disease in which the causative fungus, Ascosphaera apis, attacks and kills bees in larval stage. Deceased brood, referred to as "mummies", are sponge-like and at first white in appearance, turning black upon the fungus reaching its reproductive stage. Chalkbrood is usually treated by relocating hive to a warmer, dryer location (development of fungus favors cold, damp areas) and/or requeening. (Also reference Stonebrood).

Chilled brood: Immature stages in life of bee that have been exposed to cold temperatures too long.

Chunk comb honey: Packed honey in which piece of honeycomb is placed in container of liquid honey.

Cleansing flight: Flight bees take after days of confinement, during which they void their feces. Healthy bees avoid defecating in the hive, wastes collect in their intestines until they are able to take cleansing flights; especially after winter weather.

Clipped queen: Queen whose wing (or wings) have been clipped to prevent flying. Also for identification purposes (right wings usually clipped in even years, left wings in odd). (Also reference Marked queen).

Cluster: Collection of bees in colony gathered into limited area; especially during cold temperatures or after swarming.

Colony: Social community or unit of worker bees in a hive or other shelter, usually containing queen with or without drones.

Comb: A back-to-back structure of beeswax created by bees, and composed of horizontal, hexagonal cells joined by a median midrib; used to store honey, pollen or used to raise brood.

Comb foundation: Thin sheet of beeswax embossed or stamped by a press to form a base of cell patterns on each side. Some foundation is also made of plastic with beeswax coating.

Comb honey: Honey in the sealed comb in which it was produced. It is also called section comb honey when produced in thin basswood 4 inch square frames (sections) and comb honey when produced in shallow frames.

Comb super: A super, usually 4 1/2 or 4 3/4 inches in depth; used for the production of comb honey. Short frames to accommodate basswood sections or round plastic rings are utilized in comb supers.

Commercial beekeeper: One who operates a sufficiently large number of colonies for honey production or crop pollination as a business for profit.

Compound eye(s): The large lateral eye of the honey bee comprised of multiple visual elements named ommatidia.

Cross-pollination: Transfer of pollen from anther of one plant's flower to a stigma of another plant's flower or clone of same species.

Crawling: The appearance of bees that are unable to fly; often found crawling on landing board or hive entrance. If noted repeatedly, possible causes are mite infestation (Acarapis woodi or Varroa jacobsoni) or poisoning.

Creamed honey: (See Spun honey).

Crystallization: (See Granulated honey and Spun honey).

Cut-comb honey: Comb honey cut into appropriate sizes and packed in plastic boxes.

--  D  --

Deep super: A super used to hold standard, full-depth frames; usually 9 5/8 inches.

Demaree: Method of swarm control, by which queen is separated from most of brood; devised by man of that name.

Dequeen: Remove queen from colony.

Dextrose: (See Glucose).

Division board: Flat board of the same inside vertical and horizontal dimensions of a super used to separate a hive body into two parts or reduce the size of the chamber.

Division board feeder: A wooden or plastic trough feeder placed inside a super to hold syrup; usually the size of a frame in the hive.

Draw: To shape and build, as to draw comb from a sheet of foundation.

Drawn comb: Foundation drawn by bees into to completed comb.

Drifting: Tendency of bees to drift from their own hive to adjacent ones; especially if hives are placed close together and face same direction. Some races of bees are known to drift more than others.

Drone: Male bee. Drones die after mating with a queen. Drones are also expelled from the hive by worker bees (females) in late fall before wintering, or in dearth of available nectar flows. Drone egg to adult development period is 24 days.

Drone brood: Area of brood in hive consisting of drone larvae or pupae.

Drone cell: Comb cells cells measuring about four to the linear inch, and in which drones are reared.

Drone congregating area: An area usually about 15-30 feet (to over 100 feet) in the air in which drones congregate awaiting the appearance of queens taking their mating flights.

Drone egg: Unfertilized egg.

Drone layer: Queen that lays only infertile eggs.

Drumming: The act of rhythmically thumping on the side of a hive to drive the bees upward; usually at the rate of 40-60 beats per minute. Used to move bees from box or gum hives into standard removable-frame hives. Once drummed, a queen excluder can be placed over old hive to prevent queen from returning, yet allowing bees to care for brood contained in lower hive body until emerged.

Dry swarm: Swarm that due to inclement weather or other reasons, has depleted its food supply. Bees in dry swarms are often aggressive until a hive is found (or given) and the bees are able to feed.

Dysentery: A condition of adult bees that results in watery discharge of feces; usually released in and near the hive. Often associated with nosema disease.

--  E  --

Emerging brood: Young bees first coming out of their cells.

Entrance reducer: A 3/4 inch square block of wood and as long as the hive entrance, with two 3/8"-tall openings (one 1/2 inch wide cut on one side and a 4 inch wide cut in another). Smallest width usually used for newly hived colonies from packages or swarms (or during winter) for better control in guarding the entrance from intruders.

Escape board: Board with one or more bee escapes to permit bees to pass through one way. (See Bee escape).

Ether roll: A technique used to test for, or estimate, Varroa mite hive infestation. Approximately 100 bees are placed in a jar and given a one second "blast" of ether (or starter fluid). The sealed jar is then rolled, causing mites to dislodge and stick to inside of jar. A similar technique is to shake the bees in a jar that is one-half full of detergent and water, then strain to separate bees from mites. The number of mites found represents a sampling that can be used to determine approximate total hive infestation.

European foulbrood: Infectious disease of larval brood, caused by Streptococcus pluton (White). European foulbrood shares some identifications of American foulbrood by off-color sunken (or punctured) brood caps, however larval remains may be curled or twisted in cell and have foul odor resembling rotting fish; bacteria is not a spore-forming. Prevention with antibiotic Terramycin® is usually done in spring and fall.

Excluder: (See Queen excluder).

Extender patty: A patty made from 1 part vegetable shortening and 2 parts granulated or powdered sugar. One or two 1/4-pound patties are placed on the top bars of the brood chamber to combat the Acarapis woodi tracheal mite from entering the honey bee's spiracles in its travel to the tracheae. Extender patties may also be medicated with Terramycin® for foulbrood prevention.

Extracted honey: Honey extracted from comb.

Extractor: Machine that rotates honeycombs inside a drum or barrel at sufficient speed to remove honey by centrifugal force. Most extractors are designed as either tangential (frames placed in basket perpendicular to rotary shaft, and require reversing to remove honey from both sides of comb), or radial (frames placed in clips radiating from rotary shaft and do not require reversing).

--  F  --

Fanning: The act of bee's rapid beating of the wings near the entrance that causes air to move through the hive for ventilation. Also occurs when swarm has found a hive and releases pheromone from Nassonoff gland.

Fermented honey: Honey that has not been fully processed down to 18.6 percent moisture or less and ferments (sours). Feed syrup, due to higher moisture content, will also ferment. Fermented feed syrup is known to cause dysentery in bees.

Fertile queen: A queen that has been inseminated with drone sperm, either naturally or artificially, and is capable of laying fertile (female) eggs.

Field bee: Worker bee approximately three weeks old that collects nectar, pollen, water and propolis at locations outside the hive. Also called forager bee.

Finishing colony: A colony into which grafted queen cells are placed for care, feeding and development; usually queenright.

Fixed comb: Comb in feral colony attached to sides of hollow tree or building, and is not removable without damage. Old-fashioned skeps or box hives, lacking removable frames, resulted in fixed combs. Honey bees kept in these hives were often killed to collect the honeycomb.

Flower fidelity: The term applied to the trait of honey bees in visiting only one kind of flower on a foraging trip; plays a vital role in pollination of visited plant species.

Foulbrood: A common name for two infectious diseases of brood that results in their death and brood remains to smell bad (foul). Term most often applied to American foulbrood.

Foundation: (See Comb foundation).

Frame: A wooden rectangle that surrounds the comb and hangs in the hive. It may be called Hoffman, Langstroth or self-spacing because of differences in size and widened end-bars that provide a bee space between the frames.

Frame grip: A handle-shaped clamping tool used by some beekeepers; when pressure is applied to handle, is used to grip topbar of frame for removal from hive. Frame grips can be useful when removing frames from supers to brush bees away.

Fructose: Fruit sugar; also known as levulose; one of the simple sugars in nectar (and honey), with glucose, into which sucrose is changed through inversion with enzymes (predominantly invertase). (Also reference Glucose and Sucrose).

Fume board: A device used by some beekeepers to drive honey bees from supers when harvesting honey. A wooden frame approximately 2 inches tall with perimeter size of standard supers, with flannel cloth (or canvas) lined metal cover; also known as fume pad. A liquid substance, benzaldehyde (artificial almond extract) or butric anhydride, is sprinkled on the cloth liner and the unit is placed on top of the super. Bees usually vacate super in 5-15 minutes due to chemical odor.

Fumidil-B®: Trade name of antibiotic (fummagillin) given to bees to control nosema disease.

--  G-H  --

Galleria mellonella (L.): Scientific name of greater wax moth. (Reference wax moth).

Glucose: Also known as dextrose; one of the principal simple sugars of honey; also one of the sugars in nectar, with fructose, into which sucrose is changed through inversion with enzymes (predominantly invertase). (Also reference Fructose and Sucrose).

Grafting: Transfer of larvae from worker cells into queen cell cups for rearing into queens.

Granulated honey: Crystallized, candied or solidified honey. Honey that has been intentionally granulated with very fine honey crystals is called spun honey, and is preferred by some over liquid honey. Granulated honey can be liquefied by slowly heating to approximately 95° Fahrenheit.

Grease patty: (See Extender patty).

Guard bees: Bees about 18 to 21 days of age that place themselves at the colony entrance to defend the hive against intruders.

Gum hive: A hollow log hive; usually from Sweet Gum trees, once used in the past to hive colonies of honey bees.

Hive: A bee's home; usually constructed of wood. Also used as verb; to hive, or hiving; establishing a colony of honey bees into a hive.

Hive body: A single wooden rim or shell that holds a set of frames. When used for the brood nest, it is called a brood chamber; when used above the brood nest for honey storage, it is referred to as a super. It may be of various sizes and adapted for comb honey sections.

Hive stand: A stand used underneath the bottom board or landing board of hive; raises hive above soil level preventing excess moisture and rot. May also provide bottom insulation in winter or protection from ants, etc. depending on design.

Hive tool: Metal tool for prying supers or frames apart.

Hobbyist beekeeper: One who keeps a small number of bee hives for pleasure or occasional income.

Hoffman frame: A wood frame with end bars that are self-spacing and of type customarily used in Langstroth hives.

Honey: Sweet, viscous fluid elaborated by bees from nectar obtained from plant nectaries, chiefly floral.

Honey bee: Genus Apis, family Apidae, order Hymenoptera.

Honey flow: Period when bees are collecting nectar from plants in plentiful amounts. Also (perhaps more precisely) referred to as nectar flow.

Honey house: A building or structure where equipment for the extracting, straining and packaging of honey, and the process of such, is carried out.

Honey stomach: Area inside bee abdomen between esophagus and true stomach.

Honeycomb: (See Comb).

Honeydew: Sweet secretion from aphids and scale insects. Honey bees sometimes collect honeydew when there is a dearth of nectar, or in areas of heavy honeydew occurrences. Honey made from honeydew is sometimes marketed as a specialty honey is some countries.

House bee: A young worker bee, one day to three weeks old, that works only in the hive. Duties include wax production and cell construction, cleaning, feeding and care of brood, storing honey and pollen brought in by field bees, propolizing, entrance guarding, etc.

Hymenoptera: Order to which all bees belong, as well as ants, wasps and certain parasites.

--  I-L  --

Inner cover: A slim cover used underneath a standard telescoping cover on a bee hive; often has an oblong hole for bee escape fitting and possibly an entrance cut in the rim on one side.

Invertase: Enzyme produced by bee that speeds inversion of sucrose to glucose and fructose.

Isle of Wight Disease: A name given to what was once thought to be a disease that literally devastated honey bees on Great Britain's Isle of Wight in the early 1900's; the cause is now known to have been Acarapis woodi tracheal mites. (Reference Acarapis woodi).

Italian bee: Bee originally from Italy; one of the most popular honey bee races in the United States; usually considered to have lighter yellow markings (bands) than many other honey bees races. Scientific name is Apis mellifera ligustica.

L.L. Langstroth (Rev.): Beekeeper and discoverer of "bee space" in the fall of 1851, enabling the establishment of removable-frame hives. Rev. Langstroth's discovery of bee space, and invention of removable-frame hives, enabled beekeepers to harvest honey and manage colonies without destroying comb and bees. Considered by many to be "The Father of Beekeeping".

Landing board: A place where bees can land in front of the entrance. Usually sloped, often sold as a separate (optional) hive component that fits underneath the bottom board.

Langstroth frame: 9 1/8 by 17 5/8 inch frame.

Langstroth hive: A hive with removable frames. The bee space around the frames allows you to move the frames. It was invented by Rev. L. L. Langstroth.

Larva: Stage in life of bee between egg and pupa; "grub" stage.

Laying worker: Worker bee that lays infertile eggs after colony has been queenless for many days. As a laying worker will result in only drones emerging, the colony will need to be requeened.

Legume: One of Leguminosae, or plants such as clover, alfalfa, peas or beans.

Levulose: (See Fructose).

--  M  --

"Making an increase": The term applied to the practice of deliberate division of colonies to increase number of colonies kept; usually occurring in spring. Sometimes colonies resulting from increase methods are later re-combined with parent hives after swarming season is over. (Reference Splitting).

Mandibles: Jaws of insect.

Marked Queen: Queens shipped from queen breeders are often marked at the buyers request for identification purposes. A marked queen is easier to spot when examining the brood nest. Marking colors may also correspond to an international color coding system; queens marked with blue indicate years ending in 0 or 5, white a 1 or 6, yellow a 2 or 7, red a 3 or 8 and green for years ending in 4 or 9. Marking is indicated by a very small colored adhesive or paint dot applied to top of thorax. (Also reference Clipped queen).

Mating flight: Flight taken by virgin queen when she mates with drones in the air. Queens may take two or more flights in which they mate with approximately fifteen drones during the course of the combined flights.

Medium super: A super of height taller than a shallow super, but not as high as a deep super; usually 6 5/8 inches in depth.

Menthol: An organic crystalline substance used to treat hives of honey bees for the Acarapis woodi tracheal mite. Works best in temperatures of over 80° F, when packets of menthol crystals are placed on top bars of upper brood chamber, for full vaporization to occur.

Metamorphosis: Changes of insect from egg to adult.

Migratory beekeeping: Movement of apiaries from one area to another to take advantage of honeyflows from different crops or plant pollination.

Migratory cover: A single top-cover for bee hives in which the edges are flush with sides of the hive; enables convenient side-by-side stacking of colonies on pallets for placement or transportation.

Miller (hive top) feeder: A wooden feeder, up to several inches tall, with parameter dimensions of a super with screened entrance(s) to a one or more divisions containing syrup. Placed on top of hive and covered; used to feed the bees.

Mite: (See Acarapis woodi and Varroa jacobsoni).

Movable frame: Frame that can be removed from hive; bees are not inclined to attach frame to hive as allowance for proper bee space around it has been made.

--  N-O  --

Nassonoff gland: A gland just under the second to last segment on the top of the abdomen that releases an assembly pheromone. Best noticed when a swarm is hived, as bees will face hive entrance with abdomens pointed upward exposing gland and fanning their wings. (Reference Fanning).

Nectar: Sweet exudate from nectaries of plants. Nectar is converted by the bees into honey through evaporation and the addition of enzymes and inversion of sugars.

Nectar flow: (See Honey flow).

Nectaries: Special cells on plants from which nectar exudes.

Nosema disease: An infectious disease of adult bees caused by a spore-forming protozoan, Nosema apis Zander. Disease prevention treated with antibiotic Fumidil-B®.

Nucleus (nuclei): Miniature hives used to house a small number of bees with queen, or for mating. Also called "nucs". Popular nuc styles sized to accommodate 2-5 standard Hoffman frames.

Nurse bees: Young worker bees, usually from 3 to 12 days old, that feed larvae. (Also reference House bee).

Observation hive: Small hive with glass sides so bees can be observed. Often seen at fairs and shows were honey bees are presented.

Ocellus (ocelli): Simple eye(s) with single lens. Honey bees have three ocelli on top portion of head.

Orientation flight: Short flights taken by young bees, usually by large numbers at one time and during warm part of day to gain recognition of hive location and surroundings. Also called "play flights".

--  P  --

Package bees: Screen-sided wooden cage with two to five pounds of worker bees, usually including a queen, and with a can of sugar syrup placed inside for food during transportation. Used to establish a colony of honey bees into a hive.

Parafoulbrood: Relatively rare bee disease similar to European foulbrood; caused by bacterium Bacillus para-alvei Burnside.

Paradichlorobenzene (PDB): A white crystalline substance used to fumigate combs and repel wax moths. Usually 2-3 tablespoons on a piece of paper or foil, then placed on the top bars of the uppermost super in a stack approximately 4 feet high and closed-up will repel wax moths. Stacks can be placed on top of one another, separated by sheets of newspaper, if needed. For fumigation of heavily infested supers, approximately 6 tablespoons can be used. Fumagated supers should be aired out for at least 24 hours before use.

Pheromone: Chemicals secreted by animals to convey information to or affect behavior of other animals of same species.

Pistil: Part of flower extending from ovary to stigma.

Pollen: Male reproductive cells of flowers necessary on stigma of female flower for seed production; collected and used by bees as food for rearing their young. Pollen provides the protein part of the diet. Frequently called bee bread when stored in cells in the colony.

Pollen basket: Area on hind leg tibiae of bee comprised of very small hairs adapted for carrying pollen in pellet form back to hive.

Pollen bound: A term referring to when comb cells surrounding brood area are filled with pollen, preventing queen from maximizing egg laying.

Pollen patty: Patty or cake of sugar, water, and pollen or pollen substitute supplied to bees for use as food. Often given to colonies in very early spring before abundant natural pollen sources are obtainable for brood rearing.

Pollen substitute: Mixture of water, sugar and other material, such as soy flour or brewer's yeast, used for bee food.

Pollen supplement: Pollen substitute added to natural pollen in a pollen patty.

Pollen trap: Device installed over colony entrance with a grate sized to scrape pollen pellets from legs of bees entering hive. Pollen pellets drop into a storage container to be retrieved by beekeeper. Pollen traps left on hive for considerable periods may deprive bees of pollen needed for brood rearing.

Pollination: Transfer of pollen from male to female element of flower.

Pollinator: Agent, usually an insect (especially bees), that transfers pollen. May also refer to a beekeeper that specializes in providing colonies for crop pollination purposes.

Pollinizer: Plant that furnishes pollen for another.

Primary swarm: The first swarm to issue from a colony; usually with old queen. (Reference Afterswarm).

Proboscis: Tongue of bee.

Propolis: Resinous material of trees and plants collected and utilized by bees within hive to close small openings or cover objectionable objects within hive. Also called bee glue.

Pupa: Stage in life of developing bee after larval stage, and before maturity.

--  Q  --

Queen: Sexually developed female bee. The mother of all bees in the colony. Queen egg to adult development period is 16 days.

Queen breeder: A beekeeper specializing in the breeding and production of queens, usually for commercial purposes; often breeding for selective traits.

Queen cage: Small wooden and wire, or plastic, cage used to ship queens; usually with up to 6-8 attendant bees; also used to release them quietly into cluster.

Queen cage candy: A dough made from powdered sugar and invert sugar syrup to be used as bee-edible plug in queen cage, delaying release of queen to increase acceptance.

Queen cell: A special cell; resembling a peanut shell in shape, in which a queen is reared and develops.

Queen cup: The beginning of a queen cell. If an egg is placed in the cup, bees needing a queen will add wax to the cup increasing its size and shape during development. As the egg hatches and larva grows, bees fill the cup with royal jelly for the larva to feed on.

Queen excluder: Device usually made of zinc or wire grid allowing worker bees to pass through, restricting queens and drones due to spacing of .163 to .167 inches between wires or openings. Placed over brood chamber to prevent queen from laying eggs in honey supers (mixing brood with harvestable honey).

Queen marking: (See Marked queen).

Queen piping: A distinctive noise made by queens (old, pre-emerged and newly emerged), especially at times of swarming preparation or queen rearing. Piping is thought to be done in an effort to seek out other queens in the colony, and is recognized by sharp "ze-e-e-ep, ze-e-ep, ze-ep, zeep" or "tee-tee-tee-tee" sounds (Dadant & Sons - The Hive and the Honey Bee). Sounds from queens still in queen cells usually muffled due to wax cell.

Queen rearing: Producing queens.

Queen substance: Material produced from at least three glands in body of queen; has strong effect on colony behavior; serves to control social order.

Queenless: Without a queen.

Queenright: With queen.

--  R  --

Rendering wax: Melting old combs and wax cappings to remove refuse and partially refine the beeswax. May be melted in a solar wax melter or put through a wax press.

Requeening: A procedure where one queen (usually older) in a colony is replaced with another queen (usually younger).

Reversing: A procedure where hive bodies are switched, with the top hive body placed under the original lower hive body containing little or no brood. Allows brood area to continue upward in natural expansion, and relieves congestion; usually done in spring as often as needed every few weeks.

Ripe honey: Honey from which bees have evaporated sufficient moisture so that it contains no more than 18.6 percent water.

Robber bee: A field bee, usually elder, that is persistent in trying to rob honey stores from other hives. Robber bees are often shiny and blacker than other field bees due to their age (wear and tear), and use "sneaky" tactics to gain entrance to hives in its effort to rob.

Robbing: Bees of one hive taking honey from another, or exposed source of honey (extracted supers). Robbing behavior is usually aggressive and can result in fighting and death of robbing bees.

Royal jelly: Pharyngial glandular food, very high in nutrition, secreted by young worker bees and placed in cells for larval food. Worker and drone bee larvae are limited in amount of royal jelly fed, queen larvae are not.

--  S  --

Sacbrood: Minor disease of bees caused by filterable virus. Conditions look similar to foulbrood, but usually with fewer affected brood cells in spotty locations in brood nest, and occurs predominantly in spring. The larval remains, unlike the foulbrood diseases, do not rot away. Instead, they lay on the bottom of the cell, with the skin turning leathery and holding the water content of the larva, hence the name. As the larval remains dry out, the head turns up like the toe of a wooden shoe or slipper, easing its removal. Requeening is usually suggested if sacbrood persists or is heavily prevalent.

Sealed brood: (See Capped brood).

Self-pollination: Transfer of pollen from male to female element within same flower.

Septicemia: Usually minor disease of adult bees caused by Pseudomonas apiseptica (Burnside).

Shake: The technique of shaking bees from frames of comb to remove bees; often used by package bee suppliers to shake bees into shipping cage funnels. Also used when transferring frames of brood from one colony to another.

Shallow super: A super shallower than a deep super; usually 5 11/16 inches in depth.

Skep: Beehive made of woven straw. Used in the past, though abandoned in most areas in favor of removable-frame hives. Outlawed in many countries as brood can not be easily inspected for disease.

Small hive beetle: Pest originally from South Africa, Aethina tumida is about one third the size of a worker bee. Damage to honeycomb caused by larvae feeding on pollen; also defecation in honey, causing fermentation. Larvae distinguished from wax moth (Galleria mellonella) larvae by six distinct and rather large legs on frontal end versus wax moth's uniform-sized prolegs. Larvae leave hive to pupate in soil. Newly emerged adult beetles are red, later turning black, and covered with fine, hair-like spines. Adult beetle returns to hive to lay eggs; usually found in small areas inaccessible to bees; run rapidly across comb when disturbed. Small hive beetles known to also infest stored supers of honey awaiting extraction.

Smoke: The act of blowing smoke into a beehive to reduce bee's defensive stinging behavior. Bees lightly "smoked" proceed to gorge themselves with honey. This natural instinct allows them to abscond from a burning hive if needed (and able) and begin a new hive at an alternate location. With honey stomachs filled, both food source and fuel for beeswax secretion is readied. Smoke also dulls alarm odor scent. (Reference Smoker).

Smoker: Metal canister device with nozzle and bellows used to blow cool smoke from smoldering material on bees. Smoker material ranges from burlap, cardboard, pine needles, sumac pods, rotted wood or other natural substances with good smoldering properties. (Reference Smoke).

Solar wax melter: Glass-covered box in which wax combs are melted by sun's rays (solar heat) and wax is recovered (strained) in cake form.

Spermatheca: Small sac-like area in queen in which drone's sperms are stored.

Spermatozoa: Male reproductive cells.

Spiracles: External openings of tracheae.

Splitting: The technique of separating or "splitting" a colony of bees into two or more hive bodies or nucs; usually leaving the queenless colony to raise a new queen from existing eggs, or requeening manually by providing a queen cell or caged queen.

Spun Honey: Honey that has been "seeded" with very fine honey crystals and stirred occasionally to hasten uniform crystallization throughout; also creamed honey, whipped honey. Spun honey is usually marketed along with liquid honey on store shelves. (Reference Granulated honey).

Spur Embedder: A tool comprised of a grooved brass wheel, or spur, and mounted on a handle; used to embed support wiring in frames into beeswax foundation.

Stamen: Male part of flower on which pollen-producing anthers are borne.

Sticky board: Used on floor of hive bottom board to trap and hold Varroa mites that have fallen off bees; a thin device usually made from 8x8 mesh wire screening mounted on 3/16 - 3/8 inch high rails, and placed over wax paper or poster board material that has been sprayed with aerosol non-stick cooking oil. Mites fall through wire mesh and stick to surface of paper or poster board, prohibiting crawling and re-attachment to honey bees. Wire mesh prevents bees from walking through debris.

Stigma: Receptive part of style where pollen germinates.

Sting: Modified ovipositor of female Hymenoptera developed into organ of defense.

Stonebrood: A disease in which the causative fungus, Aspergillus flavus attacks and kills bees in larval stage. Deceased brood, referred to as "mummies", are solid and green in appearance; green growth is powdery. Symptoms are similar, but quite different from, Chalkbrood. No treatment is usually necessary.

Streptococcus pluton (White): Causative agent of European foulbrood.

Sucrose: Cane sugar; main solid ingredient of many nectars before inversion into other sugars by enzymes (predominantly invertase). (Also reference Glucose and Fructose).

Super: Extra division of hive used for honey storage above the brood chambers.

Supersedure: The natural replacement of one queen by another while first is still alive (without swarming).

Supersedure cell: Queen cell constructed by worker bees in preparation for queen supersedure; usually located on the face of brood comb; constructed fewer in number than those of swarm cells (anywhere from about three to eight), and generally lighter in color.

Swarm: Natural division of colony of bees. A number of worker bees and a queen (usually the old one) that leave the hive to establish a new colony. (Also reference Afterswarm and Primary swarm).

Swarm cell: Queen cell constructed by worker bees in preparation for swarming; usually located on the bottom and lower edges of brood comb; constructed greater in number than those of supersedure cells (anywhere from about six to twenty or more), and generally darker in color.

--  T  --

Tarsus: Fifth segment of bee leg.

Telescoping cover: A hive cover, used with an inner cover, that extends downward a few inches on all four sides of a hive.

Terramycin®: Trade name of antibiotic (oxytetracycline) used to prevent or treat foulbrood diseases (especially American foulbrood). Usually mixed with powdered sugar and sprinkled on tops of brood frames in hive body, or mixed in with extender patties.

Thorax: Mid-part, or second region, of bee to which wings and legs are attached.

Tinning: The act of banging on a tin pot or pan (hence "tinning") underneath a flying swarm that was done in the past and once thought (falsely) to bring the swarm down to earth, enabling their capture.

Top supering: The practice of placing empty honey supers on top of others already on the hive. The bee's natural instinct is to use topmost combs for evaporating and processing nectar during honey flows, moving honey ready to be sealed downward to available comb. (Also reference Bottom supering).

Tracheae: Breathing tubes of insects; tracheae open into the spiracles on the abdomen's surface.

Tracheal mite: (See Acarapis woodi).

Transition cell: Cells of smaller or larger size than worker cells, and smaller than drone cell size; usually found where worker cells merge with drone cell areas on brood comb.

Travel stain: Darkened or stained surface of capped honey due to bees walking on comb and tracking pollen and/or propolis over surface.

--  U-V  --

Uncapping knife: Knife or flat blade used to remove honeycomb cell caps so honey can be extracted. Many knife models heated with electricity or steam to increase efficiency.

Uncapping tank: A receptacle or tank manufactured to provide area for uncapping frames of honeycomb, catching cappings on filter or grid, allowing for drainage. Usually provides for uncapped frames to hang in tank area until ready for insertion in extractor.

Unite: Combine one honey bee colony with another.

Unsealed brood: Brood in egg and larval stages only.

Varroa jacobsoni: A mite that originally was a parasite on the small Asian honey bee (Apis cerana), but has spread its presence to many other countries, including the U.S. The mites lay eggs in developing larva cells, preferably drone, which later hatch and feed on the blood of pupae within cells, or under the abdominal segments on either side of the wax glands of adult bees. Can be seen with naked eye. Honey bees suffering from varroa mite infestation are usually treated with Apistan(TM) strips. Development in breeding resistance to varroa mites in honey bees is currently in progress.

Virgin queen: Unmated queen.

--  W-Z  --

Wax glands: Four pairs of glands on the underside of worker bee abdomen from which wax is secreted after bee has been gorged with honey. Wax glands usually degenerate into a flat layer of epidermis cells as wax-forming period in worker bee subsides.

Wax moth: Lepidopterous insect whose larvae feed on pollen and honey bee detritus, destroying wax combs in the process and causing considerable damage to stored frames of combs (including wooden hive parts of neglected hives). Stored or infested combs are typically fumigated with Paradichlorobenzene to rid them of wax moth larvae and eggs.

Weeping: A description applied to honeycomb that has damage, especially to cappings, leaking small amounts of honey across the face of the comb.

Winter cluster: Closely packed colony of bees in winter.

Wired foundation: Beeswax foundation with vertical wires embedded for increased strength.

Wired frames: Frames with horizontal wires strung taught through endbars to hold sheets of foundation in place, preventing sagging of wax foundation and increasing strength of drawn comb.

Wiring: Installing tinned wire in frames as support for combs.

Worker bee: Sexually underdeveloped female bee. Caste of colony responsible for maintaining hive, collecting food and raising young. Worker egg to adult development period is 21 days.

Worker cell: Comb cells measuring about 5 cells per linear inch, and in which worker bees are reared. Honey and pollen is also usually stored in worker cell-size comb.

Worker egg: Fertilized (female) bee egg.

Some definitions taken in whole or in part from U.S. federal and/or state government bulletins.
All additions and modifications authored and Copyright © 1999-2001 David D. Scribner. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: January 25, 2001