Welcome to the NWBC Australian Beekeeping Glossary.
Every activity, community or specialisation has its own nomenclature and beekeeping is no different. Communicating with people is easier when there is a common understanding about what words mean and this is even more so when you get into any specialised area.
This glossary aims to provide an easy to use quick reference guide on words either commonly used in Australian beekeeping or for words that have a specific meaning within the context of Australian beekeeping; the nomenclature of beekeeping.
This is a project that will grow over time so feel free to send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 foul brood - 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 - Genus and species of the Western honey bee originating in Europe and Africa and now located around the world.
Bait hive - A hive or box placed preferably in an elevated location used to attract and hopefully capture swarms.
Bee blower - a motorised blower used as one method to remove bees from honeycombs. Typically frames are not removed from supers prior to using the blower.
Bee bread - a fermented mixture of collected pollen and nectar or honey, deposited in the cells of a comb. Pollen is the primary pollen source for bees and is used especially by the nurse bees to produce royal jelly to feed the young larvae.
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.
Beekeeper: A person who owns bees, most commonly European honeybees, to collect honey or other products. This maybe as a hobby or as part of a commercial operation; see also apiarist.
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.
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.
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 non-feeding 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 behaviour. 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 crystallised under controlled conditions to produce a tiny crystal and a smooth texture. Often a starter or seed is used to help control the crystallization.
Cross-pollination - the transfer of pollen from an anther of one plant to the stigma of a different plant of the same species. Honeybees are excellent pollinators.
Crystallisation - 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.
Drone - A male bee. The drone is intermediate in size between the queen and a worker. His sole task is to mate with a queen on the wing after which he dies.
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Granulation - see Crystallisation
Hive tool - A tool used for opening a hive and removing frames and excess comb. They come in various forms but are usually hooked at one end and flattened at the other.
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Larvae - Are the juvenile stage of the bee’s life. During this time the bee is a grub and spends it’s time in a cell in the comb of the hive. Larvae eventually pupate and become adult bees.
Metamorphosis - This is a biological process by which and animal changes it bodily structure as it develops from a juvenile to adult form. Insects, amphibians and some fish undergo this process.
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Propolis - A substance made by bees from the resin of various plants. It is used to seal small gaps in the hive and has been used in traditional medicine. It is also known as bee butter.
Queen Bee - The queen bee is an adult female that has been exclusively fed on royal jelly throughout her development from a larva to adult. She is usually the only egg laying female in the hive and is the mother of the bees in that hive. There is normally only one queen in a honey bee hive.
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Sticky - A frame from which the honey has been extracted. There is always a small amount of honey left on the comb.
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Virgin Queen - A queen bee who has not yet mated.
Worker or Worker Bee - An infertile female bee responsible for all the work related to the hive. Workers clean the hive, gather nectar and pollen, defend the hive, feed the larvae, care for the queen, dehydrate the nectar to make honey, build the comb, produce wax and every other job in the hive.
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