Glossary of Beekeeping Terms

What's on this page?

This page serves as a help to those of you who are new to beekeeping and don't know all the terminology yet.  There are a lot of terms which not everyone is familiar with and it's helpful to have a place to come look it up.  If there's anything you are looking for, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will add it to the list.

The Glossary

Bee Brush - Soft long bristled brush used in brushing bees off comb.

Broodnest - The portion of the hive where the workers are raising brood.  Usually bordered especially at the top edges by pollen.

- Method by which comb in supers is organized in late winter to facilitate buildup and honey crop.  Frames are alternated between drawn comb and foundation.

Cluster - "Ball" of bees grouped together to produce and retain warmth in winter.

- Langstroth style hive box 9 5/8" tall, typically 10 frames, occasionally eight frames.

Dink - A non-performing hive.  May be described as "failure to thrive."  May survive for several years without producing any honey.

- The male fertile caste of the hive.  Drones are created when the queen lays an unfertilized egg.  Drones' primary purpose is to mate with new queens and die in the process.

Feral - A colony that has survived at least one winter in a tree or other unprovided cavity without human installation or interference.

- A sheet of wax embossed with cell bases used in frames as a place for the bees to build comb from.

- Conventional beekeeping without the use of foundation.

- Wood or plastic housing for comb in a Langstroth style hive.  Allows combs to be moved and rearranged.

Hive - A colony of bees, referring to the bees themselves or the box in which they are housed.

Hive Body
- Generally one or more Deeps designated for the broodnest.

Hoffman Frame
- Modern most commonly used frame.  Construction spaces comb at a correct center to center distance.

Housel Positioning
- Named after Michael Housel, the method of positioning frames so that the Y formed by the vertices at the bottom of the cell is inverted facing the center of the hive.

Langstroth Hive - Most commonly used modern hive.  Made of 1"xX" dimensional lumber from which is cut a frame rest.  Uses Hoffman Frames.

Large Cell
- Reference to cell size, the size of the most commonly available foundation, 5.2mm-5.6mm.

- Wine made with honey rather than grape juice.

Langstroth style hive box 6 5/8" tall, typically 10 frames, occasionally eight frames.

MountainCamp Method - A feeding method involving feeding granulated sugar by placing it on top of the cluster in an empty box or frame.

Natural Cell - Reference to the cell size of comb in feral hives.  No specific dimension, may vary from 4.2mm to the largest honey storage cells.

- Short for Nucleus Hive, a small hive consisting of 1-10 frames or equivalent comb area.

Prime Swarm - The first and largest "primary" swarm the emerges from a hive with the original queen.

Pyramiding Up -
The reorganization of frames from a single deep into three with a pyramid shaped cross section to increase the speed of hive buildup.

- The female sexually mature caste of the hive.  The queen lays all fertilized eggs.  There is usually but not always only one in the hive.

Queen Castle - A specialty hive type which is divided into three or four nucs within one normally sized box.

Reversing - In reference to hive bodies, in the double deep hive paradigm, the reversal of the two deeps apportioned for the broodnest in the spring.

Royal Jelly
- Substance produced by worker bees from a gland in their head which larvae are fed for the first few days and queen larvae are fed exclusively.

- Langstroth style hive box 5 5/8" tall, typically 10 frames, occasionally eight frames.

Small Cell - Reference to cell size.  Comb with cells measuring ~4.9cm/10.  4.95 (Mann Lake Plastic Frames) is also considered acceptable.

- Device used to incompletely burn organic material producing thick relatively cool smoke which disrupts the bees' pheromone communication system and calms them.

- One of the boxes used in modern hives.  Usually refers to the upper ones in which honey is stored.

- The reproductive natural splitting of a hive where the queen and a substantial portion of the hive's workers leave to start a new hive.

Treatment-Free Beekeeping
- Keeping bees without the use of chemicals, substances, equipment or manipulations that aid the bees in defeating disease or mites.

Walkaway Split - Splitting method by which hive is divided, leaving the queenless portion(s) to raise its own queen from worker larvae.

Worker - The unfertile female caste of the hive.  Workers perform all work inside and outside the hive other than laying eggs.