Bee Vocabulary

I’m sure I’m going to forget a few things, but it’s been brought to my attention that all of this technical bee vocabulary can become confusing. I’m going to attempt to define it here, as well as during my posts.

The Bees

Queen – the most important bee, she can last up to five years and is the only bee capable of laying female (worker) bees.

Drone – the only male bee, their only job is to mate with the queen (then they die). They get kicked out of the hive in the fall once they are no longer useful.

Worker – the other female bee, they do a variety of jobs over their lifetimes and do everything else.

Eggs, larve, pupa – these are the terms for the developmental stages of the bees, starting from the beginning (eggs) to the end (pupa). The queen is the one that decides whether to fertilize the egg and make it female.

Brood – another term for when the pupa is capped, but also the term used for all forms of bees from egg through adult bee.

Multiple eggs in a cell, a sign of a laying worker.

Laying worker – a female bee that, due to the hive being queenless, has developed ovaries and the ability to lay eggs. Due to this bee not mating with a drone, she can only produce male (drone) bees, which are useless.

The Resources

Pollen – the protein part of the flower that bees use to feed eggs/larve

Nectar – the sweet sugary portion of the flower that is stored and, when evaporated to the right sugar content, becomes honey.

Honey – nectar from flowers that had been evaporated to the correct sugar content. This is what the bees survive on all winter.

Bee bread – a combination of pollen and nectar that is packed in the same comb cells.

Propolis – a sticky substance that bees find and is used as a filler/glue for the hive.

Comb – wax that is secreted from the bees body and placed in a hexagonal pattern. This is where all of the above is stored.

Queen cup – a special comb cell in which a female egg is laid and extra royal jelly is given. The bees also elongate this cell to give the queen enough room. Bees make these for a few reasons: emergency (a queen is unexpectedly killed), supercedure (the bees don’t like their queen for whatever reason, usually she’s old), or swarm (not enough room in the hive, so the queen is ready to bolt, leaving this eventual queen to take over).

The Tools

Hive tool – a special tool that is used to pry open the hive and separate the frames.

Veil/Jacket – clothing used to keep bees away from your body.

Smoker – used to calm the bees. The smoke also helps to push them down into the frames.

Queen cage – a small wooden box that protects the queen during transport and. Another form is made of wire mesh and is useful in introducing a queen to a hive without them killing her.

Queen marking tool – a tool that allows you access to an immobile queen so you can mark the queen with a paint pen.

The Pests

Mites – a parasite that can spread diseases and is one of the major issues facing the bees.

Hive Beetles – small bugs that live in the shadows of the hive and can cause issues.

Wax moth – small moths that can destroy the comb on the frames.

Hive Components – wooden pieces to the hive

Nucleus Colony (Nuc) – a small, 4-5 frame colony that allows the hive less space to need control over.

Bottom Board – the very bottom of the hive that the hive rests on. Sometimes a bottom board has is an opening with a mesh cover that allows for ventilation and mites to drop and fall out of the hive.

Deep- also known as a brood box, these are the main hive component. They are 9 7/8 inches tall and is the main area that the queen will lay eggs in.

Super- these are also called medium boxes, these are an additional component to a hive. The main purpose for these 6 7/8 inch tall boxes is for bees to store honey.

Queen Excluder – a metal or plastic sheet with holes just big enough for workers to move between freely without the queen being able to. This keeps the queen in the brood area of the hive to make brood and allows the workers to move up and produce honey in the other without there being a mixture.

Inner Cover/Vivaldi board- a thin board, often with a while in the center that allows for feeding with a pail feeder. A Vivaldi board is about 3 inches high and includes ventilation on both sides. This is especially important during the winter to eliminate condensation.

Top Cover – a wooden box with a metal top to protect the hive from the elements.

Frames – wooden rectangles where the bees produce their comb.

Foundation – wax coated plastic with a hexagonal pattern for bees to draw their comb from. It provides structure and stability for bees.

Feeder – there are many ways to feed bees, but I use the feeder pail. It is a 1 or 2 gallon bucket with small holes in the lid. Inside is either 1:1 or 2:1 sugar:water syrup. Once flipped upside down, a vacuum seal keeps the syrup in until the bees suck it out.

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