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Laidlaw Facility / Honey Bees / Glossary

Photo: close-up of honey bee

Close-up of honey bee on water board. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)


Source: Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, UC Davis Department of Entomology.


To eliminate a (disease or parasite) problem by removing or treating bees and beekeeping equipment so that there is no possibility of contaminating other colonies.

Abandonment of the hive by the whole population of adult honey bees; not a reproductive swarm.  Overheating, lack of food, and frequent disturbances can cause absconding.

Acid board (also Fume board)
A rimmed hive cover containing a pad of absorbent material into which benzaldehyde or propionic anhydride [bee repellents] is poured.  Used to remove bees from supers.

A collection of one or more populated beehives at a certain location.
Bee bread
Acidic, various colored pollens stored in honeycomb cells and used by bees for food.

Bee escape
A mechanical device that allows bees to pass through it in only one direction.  Often a leaf spring or cone design used to eliminate bees from particular supers in a hive or from buildings.
Bee glue
See Propolis.

Normally refers to a man-made container in which the colony lives.  Movable frame hives are required by law in California (see Hive).

An individual who oversees the maintenance of one or more colonies of bees.
The apparatus at the tip of an adult female bee which can inject venom into the victim being stung.  The worker sting remains in the victim and continues to inject venom for 45 to 60 seconds; should be scraped off sting site as rapidly as possible.

Wax secreted by glands located on the underside of four abdominal segments of the honey bee workers.  Honey bees use it to construct comb.

Boardman feeder
A small, wooden or plastic, feeder placed at the hive entrance and holding an inverted pint or quart glass jar of sugar syrup.  Not recommended.
Any immature stage of development: egg, larva, or pupa.  Also, collectively, all immature bees in the hive.

Brood comb
Any drawn comb upon which eggs, larvae, or pupae are found.

Brood food
Glandular secretion of “nurse bees” that is fed to larvae, the queen, drones, and other adult worker bees.

Brood nest
The area inside the hive devoted to brood rearing.

Brood rearing
The process involving egg laying, feeding larvae, and keeping pupae warm which produces more adult bees.

A thin layer of beeswax that covers the cells of ripened honey or developing pupae.  Cappings are collected when honey is being uncapped.  Capped brood refers to pupae. 

Cappings melter
A hot water, steam, or electrically heated container used to separate honey and wax by melting; wax floats on the honey.  See also Solar melter.

Cappings spinner
A centrifuge with wire screen baskets used to separate honey from beeswax.
One of the hexagonal compartments of a honeycomb in which brood is reared or food is stored.

Area west of Sierra Nevada Mountains in northern and central California, and area west of Mojave and Colorado deserts in southern California. (See also Transmontane.)
Clipping and marking
Terminology referring to the clipping of a portion of a queen's wing and the affixing of a dot of
colored material to the top of her thorax.

Loosely, any group of bees that forms a relatively compact aggregation.  A “winter cluster” is composed of all the bees in the colony huddled as closely together as necessary to maintain the required cluster temperature.  As the ambient temperature increases, the cluster expands until it loses its identity but it will reappear if the temperature drops.

A community of bees living in close association and contributing to their mutual support by their labor.  It is composed of a queen and worker bees, and during spring and summer drone bees are present.  The terms “colony” and “hive” often are used interchangeably.

A mass of hexagonal cells made of beeswax and containing brood and food.

Movement of pollen between blossoms of one variety of plant species and a second, compatible, variety to produce hybrid seed.  See also Pollination.

Cover (also referred to as "top" or "lid")
The flat, wooden piece placed on top of the hive to confine and protect the bees.

Severe to total lack of availability, usually in reference to nectar and/or pollen.

Demaree method
A swarm prevention technique based on removal and isolation of a colony's brood at the top of a multiple story hive.

Movement of bees from their original hive into a neighboring hive.  Frequent with drones and surprisingly common with workers.

A male bee, that develops from an unfertilized egg.

Intestinal disorder causing frequent defecation (diarrhea) in affected individuals.  Tan, brown, or black fecal smears on combs or outside of hive indicate such a problem.

Escape board (also, sometimes, inner cover)
A device with dimensions identical to the top of a super that contains one or more bee escapes.  Used to empty bees from one or more supers above it.

A mechanical device used to remove honey from uncapped honey combs by centrifugal force.

A unique cluster of bees that link themselves together by their tarsi (feet) in a loose network between the combs in a hive.  Normally, these are aggregates of wax-producing bees. 

Refers to the availability of nectar and/or pollen.  When food substances are available in abundance, it is a “good flow.”

Those activities of bees connected with finding and bringing back water, nectar, pollen, or propolis.

A thin sheet of beeswax imprinted with the hexagonal cell bases of a honeycomb; used as a base for the comb when placed in frames.

A rectangle, usually of wood or plastic, which is hung inside the hive; to support the foundation and comb.  Sometimes “frame” and “comb” are used interchangeably; that is, a “comb of
brood” is a “frame of brood.”

Fume board
See Acid board.

A container housing a colony of bees.  Usually consists of one or more hive bodies below and one or more supers above.  (See Beehive and Colony.)

Hive body
The part of the hive containing combs in which the queen lays eggs.  The hive body rests on the bottom board.

Hive stand
A device that elevates the bottom board up off the ground.

Hive tool
A metal tool especially designed for opening beehives and scraping interior hive components.

Hot room
An insulated portion of a warehouse with radiant or forced air heating which can produce temperatures up to 100oF.

Inner cover
See Escape board

The grub-like immature stage of a honey bee which increases in size dramatically as it feeds on brood food, pollen, and diluted honey. 

A dilute sugar solution secreted by glands (nectaries) in different parts of plants, chiefly in the bases of flowers.

Nuc or nucs (short for nucleus or nuclei)
A small, functioning colony of bees (queen, bees, brood) housed on two to five combs.

Nurse bee
A worker bee of the correct age (9-12 days post emergence) to produce brood food and feed larval bees, adult queens and drones.

A small, highly insulated portion of a warehouse, often in the hot room, where temperatures can be elevated to 150oF to melt beeswax.

A wire-screened wooden box of bulk bees, a queen, and a can of feed used to transport bees to an empty hive.

Male sex cells produced in anthers of flowers.  Powder-like and composed of many grains, it is gathered and used by honey bees for food as a source of protein.  A good mix of many different pollens is essential for adequate nutrition.

Transfer of viable pollen to a receptive stigma of a flower.  In commercial beekeeping, the term refers to the service provided by honey bees in crop production.  See also Crosspollination.

Pollen substitutes
Feed substances fed bees to provide protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals when pollens are not available.

Pollen supplement
Pollen substitute mixed with pollens to increase attractiveness and nutritive value to bees.

Pollen trap
A device attached to a hive to remove about 50% of the pollen loads from incoming foraging bees.  Pollen “pellets” usually are collected in a drawer that is inaccessible to the bees.

An immature stage between the last larval instar and the true pupal stage in the life cycle of a honey bee.

Plant resins collected by bees and used as a cement to stick hive parts together and to seal openings.  Also called bee glue.

The preadult form of bees occurring after the prepupal stage and maintained without evident change in size and structure, or movement, until the adult bee emerges from the cell.

Queen cage candy
A special fondant made from Nuomoline®, Drivert®, and glycerin; used to feed queen and attendant bees in queen cages.

Queen excluder
A wire or plastic grid, with slots just large enough for passage of worker bees, used to prohibit the movement of a queen between supers.

Lone, fully developed female in colony.  She lays all the eggs and stores sperm for up to three years.

A hive of bees with no queen.

A colony of bees with a functioning queen.

Rendered comb
Comb which has been melted down to beeswax.  With American foulbrood, the wooden frames are soaked in a lye bath.

To remove the present queen from the colony and replace her with another queen.

Having the characteristic of sticky elasticity and stringing out when stirred and stretched.

Royal jelly
The modified glandular secretion from the heads of nurse bees used to feed developing queen bees.

A dehydrated, dead larva shrunken to an elongated, thin, flat chip at the bottom of a cell.
A mixture of propolis, pollen, cocoons, and other debris which persists after beeswax and honey have been recovered from rendered combs.

Solar melter
A device designed to use the radiant energy of the sun to melt beeswax, and, in some cases, to separate honey from beeswax.

A small, round organ in the abdomen of a queen bee capable of storing viable sperm for three or more years.

Spring dwindling
A condition in which the colony population decreases in size during the spring season, when exponential population growth is anticipated.

A wooden box with frames containing foundation or drawn comb in which honey is to be produced.  Named for its position above the brood nest.  The same type of box is
referred to as a "hive body" when it is situated below the honey supers and is intended to be used for brood rearing and pollen storage.

A natural process by which a colony of honey bees replaces its present queen with a new one.

Approximately half of the worker bees, with or without drones, and the original queen which have left the hive to start a new colony.

A system of air-filled branching tubes that conduct oxygen from outside the body to inner tissues of the bees.

Tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi)
Microscopic parasitic mites that live and reproduce primarily in the thoracic tracheae of adult honey bees.

Area east of Sierra Nevada Mountains; includes Mojave and Colorado deserts.

Varroa mites (Varroa destructor)
Small, oval, reddish-brown parasitic mites of honey bees.  Adults can feed on any life stage of the honey bee, but only can reproduce on the pupae.

The process of preparing the hive and colony for survival over the winter.  Also a colony in the process of attempting to survive over the winter.

An infertile, female honey bee, anatomically adapted to perform the work for a colony of bees including: manipulation of stored food, feeding brood, guarding the hive, foraging for food, etc.