Glossary of Terms



The segmented posterior or third region of the body of a bee enclosing the honey stomach, intestine, reproductive and other organs and sting.

Absconding Swarm

An entire colony of bees that abandons the hive because of disease, wax moth, or other maladies.

Adulterated honey

Any product labeled "Honey" or "Pure Honey" that contains ingredients other than honey but does not show these on the label. (Suspected mislabeling should be reported to the Food and Drug Administration.)


A small swarm, usually headed by one or more virgin queens , which may leave the hive after the first or prime swarm has departed.

Africanized bee

A population of bees in the Americas, also called "killer" bees, that has resulted from importation of bees into Brazil from Africa in the mid-1950's known for their defensiveness.

Alighting board

A small projection or platform at the entrance of the hive.

American foulbrood (AFB)

A brood disease of honey bees caused by the spore-forming bacterium, Paenibacillus (formerly Bacillus) larvae.

Anaphylactic shock

Constriction of the muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes of a human, caused by hypersensitivity to venom and resulting in sudden death unless immediate medical attention is received.


An area where colonies of bees, and perhaps other beekeeping equipment are located; also called bee yard.


The science and art of raising honey bees.

Apis mellifera

Scientific name of the honey bee found in the United States.

Automatic uncapper

Automated device that removes the cappings from honey combs, usually by moving the frames between heated knives, metal teeth, or flails.


Bacillus larvae

The bacterium that causes American foulbrood.

Bait hive

An empty hive or box, sometimes with a pheromone lure, used to attract swarms.

Bee blower

A gasoline or electrically powered engine with attached blower used to dislodge bees from combs in a honey super by creating a high-velocity, high-volume wind.

Bee bread

A mixture of pollen and nectar or honey collected by foragers and ,deposited in the cells of a comb to be used as food by the bees.

Bee brush

A brush or whisk broom used to remove bees from combs.

Bee escape

A device used to remove bees from honey supers and buildings by permitting bees to pass one way but preventing their return.


A box or receptacle with movable frames, used for housing a colony of bees.

Bee metamorphosis

The three brood stages (egg, larva, and pupa) through which a bee passes before reaching maturity.

Bee space

1/4 to 3/8-inch space between combs and hive parts sufficient to permit unhindered passage of adult bees but too small for them to build comb or deposit propolis.


A complex mixture of organic compounds secreted by special glands located on the ventral side of the worker bee's abdomen; used for molding six-sided cells into comb. Its melting point is from 143.6°F to 147.2°F.

Bee mite

A parasitic arthropod infesting honey bees. See also Varroa mite and Tracheal mite.

Bee tree

A tree with one of more hollows occupied by a feral (unmanaged) colony of bees.

Bee veil

A cloth or wire netting for protecting the beekeeper's face, head and neck from stings.

Bee venom

The poison secreted by special glands attched to the stinger of the bee.


A volatile, almond-smelling chemical used to drive bees out of honey supers.

Boardman feeder

A device for feeding bees in warm weather, consisting of an inverted jar with an attachment allowing access to the hive entrance.

Bottom board

The floor of a beehive; usually includes colony entry/exit.

Brace/ burr comb

Bits of comb built between parallel combs, between comb and adjacent wood, or between two wooden parts such as top bars to fasten them together permiting workers to move easily within the nest.

Braula coeca

The scientific name of a wingless fly commonly known as the bee louse.


The collective term for all immature stages of bees; eggs, larvae, and pupae.

Brood chamber

The part of the hive in which the brood is reared; consisting of one or more hive bodies and the combs within.


Capped brood

Pupae whose cells have been sealed with a porous beeswax cover by mature bees to isolate them during their nonfeeding pupal period; also called sealed brood.

Capping melter

Device used to liquefy the wax from beeswax cappings after they are removed (uncapped) from honey combs.


The thin wax covering of cells full of honey; the cell coverings after they are sliced from the surface of a honey-filled comb.


The two types of female bees of a honey bee colony: workers and queen. (Sometimes drones are incorrectly included as a third caste - they are males)


The hexagonal (six-sided) compartment of a honey comb.

Cell bar

A wooden strip on which queen cups are placed for rearing queen bees.

Cell cup

Base of an artificial queen cell, made of beeswax or plastic and used for rearing queen bees.

Chilled brood

Developing bee brood that have died from exposure to cold; commonly caused by mismanagement.

Chunk honey

Honey cut from frames and placed in jars along with liquid honey.


Removing visible foreign material from honey or wax to increase its purity.


A large group of bees hanging together, one upon another for warmth and/or cohesion.


The aggregate of worker bees, drones, queen, and developing brood living together as a social family unit in a hive or other dwelling.


A mass of six-sided cells made of wax by honey bees in which brood is reared and honey and pollen are stored; composed of two layers united at their bases. (also termed beeswax comb or honeycomb)

Comb foundation

A commercially made structure consisting of a thin sheet of beeswax (sometimes laminated on a plastic sheet) 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, in either thin wooden sections (4 × 4 inches or 4 × 5 inches) or circular plastic frames.

Creamed (Crystallized) honey

Honey which has been allowed to crystallize, usually under controlled conditions, to produce a tiny crystal that gives the honey a creamy texture.

Crimp-wired foundation

Comb foundation into which thin crimped wire is embedded vertically during foundation manufacture.


The transfer of pollen from an anther of one plant to the stigma of a different plant of the same species.


See Granulation.

Cut-comb honey

Comb honey cut into various sizes, the edges drained, and the pieces wrapped or packed individually.


Decoy hive

See Bait hive.


A series of repeated movements of bees on comb; round and wag-tail (or waggling) dance are used to communicate the location of food sources and potential home sites.


The method of swarm control that separates the queen from most of the brood within the same hive.


To remove a queen from a colony.


One of the two principal sugars found in honey; forms crystals during granulation. Also known as glucose.


Partitioning a colony to form two or more units termed divides or splits.

Division board feeder

A wooden or plastic compartment suspended in a hive like a frame to hold sugar syrup to feed bees.

Double screen

A wooden frame, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, with two layers of wire screen used to separate two colonies within the same hive, one above the other. An entrance is cut on the upper side and placed to the rear of the hive for entry/exit to the upper colony.

Drawn combs

Combs with cells built out by honey bees from a sheet of foundation.

Drifting of bees

The failure of bees to return to their own hive in an apiary containing many colonies. Young bees tend to drift more than older bees, and bees from small colonies tend to drift into larger colonies.


The male honey bee.

Drone comb

Comb measuring about four cells per linear inch where the queen typically lays unfertilized eggs become drones.

Drone layer

An infertile or unmated laying queen or queen that has run out of sperm; she is able to produce only unfertilized eggs.


Rhythmatic pounding on the sides of a hive to make the bees ascend into another box/hive body placed over it.


The rapid dying off of old bees in the spring; sometimes called spring dwindling or disappearing disease (but there is no associated pathogen involved).


An abnormal condition of adult bees characterized by severe diarrhea— usually caused by starvation, low-quality food, moist surroundings, or nosema infection.


Electric embedder

A device allowing rapid embedding of wires in foundation with electrically produced heat.

European foulbrood (EFB)

An infectious brood disease of honey bees caused by the bacterium Melissococcus (formally Streptococcus) pluton.

Extender (grease) patty

A mixture of grease (Crisco shortening) and granulated sugar placed above or below the brood area for mite control; sometimes includes the antiboitic Terramycin.

Extracted honey

Liquid honey removed from the comb usually by centrifugal force.


Feral bees

Unmanaged colony of bees living in a tree hollow or other enclosed structure.


A chemical breakdown of honey caused by sugar-tolerant yeast; associated with honey having a high moisture content.

Fertile queen

A queen, inseminated instrumentally or mated with a drone, which can lay fertilized eggs.

Field bees

Worker bees at least three weeks old that work (forage) outside the hive to collect nectar, pollen, water, and plant saps for making propolis.

Flash heater

A device for heating honey very rapidly to prevent it from being damaged by sustained periods of high temperature.

Food chamber

A hive body filled with honey for winter stores.

Foulbrood disease

See American foulbrood or European foulbrood.


See Comb foundation.


Four pieces of wood/plastic (top bar, a bottom bar, and two end bars) designed to hold foundation/drawn comb.


The predominant simple sugar found in honey; also known as levulose.


The trade name for Fumagillin, a chemotherapy used in the prevention and suppression of Nosema disease.

Fume board

A rectangular frame, the dimensions of a super, covered with an absorbent material such as burlap, on which is placed a chemical repellent to drive the bees out of supers for honey removal.



One of the two principal sugars found in honey; forms crystals during granulation. Also known as dextrose.


Removing a worker larva from its cell and placing it in an artificial queen cup in order to have the bees rear it as a new queen.

Grafting tool

A needle or probe used for transferring larvae in grafting of queen cells.


The formation of sugar (glucose) crystals in honey.



A man-made home for bees.

Hive bee

An adult worker performing tasks within the hive during the first three weeks of her adult life.

Hive body

A wooden box which holds ten (sometimes eight) frames.

Hive stand

A structure that supports the hive.

Hive tool

A metal device used to open hives, pry frames apart, and scrape wax and propolis from the hive parts.


A sweet viscid material produced by bees from the nectar of flowers, composed largely of a mixture of glucose and fructose sugars dissolved in 15-19 percent water; contains small amounts of sucrose, mineral matter, vitamins, proteins, and enzymes.


See comb.


A sweet liquid excreted by aphids, leafhoppers, and some scale insects that is collected by bees, especially in the absence of a good source of nectar. Finished honey is sometimes called forest honey.

Honey bee

Common name for Apis mellifera.

Honey extractor

A machine which removes honey from the comb cells by centrifugal force.

Honey flow

A time when nectar is plentiful and bees are capable of making and storing surplus honey.

Honey house

Building used for extracting honey and storing equipment.

Honey pump

A pump used to transfer honey from a sump or extractor to a holding tank or strainer.

Honey stomach (crop)

A portion of the digestive system in the abdomen of the adult honey bee used for carrying nectar, honey, or water.

Honey sump

A clarifying tank between the extractor and honey pump for removing the coarser particles of comb introduced during extraction.



To add to the number of colonies, usually by dividing existing colonies.

Introducing cage

Small wooden, wire or plastic cage used to ship/hold queen to introduce/release her to new colony.

Inner cover

Alightweight cover used under a standard telescoping cover on a beehive.

Instrumental (artificial) insemination

The introduction of drone spermatozoa into the genital organs of a virgin queen by means of special instruments.


An enzyme produced by honey bees which they add to nectar to break down the sucrose (disaccharide) to glucose and fructose (monosaccharides), the sugars of honey.

Italian bees

Most widely used population (race) of honey bees; originated in Italy.


Langstroth Hive

Our modern-day, man-made home for bees; termed Langstroth for original designer.

Larva (plural, larvae)

The second (feeding) stage of bee metamorphosis; a white, legless, grublike insect.

Laying worker

A worker which lays infertile eggs, producing only drones, usually in colonies that are hopelessly queenless.


See Fructose.


Mating flight

The flight taken by a virgin queen while she mates in the air with several drones.


Honey wine.

Migratory beekeeping

The moving of colonies of bees from one locality to another during a single season to take advantage of two or more honey flows and/or pollination rentals.


See bee mite.



A sweet liquid secreted by the nectaries of plants; the raw product of honey.

Nectar guide

Color (usually ultraviolet) marks on flowers believed to direct insects to nectar secretion site.


The organs of plants which secrete nectar, located within the flower (floral nectaries) or on other portions of the plant (extrafloral nectaries).


A disease of the adult honey bee caused by the protozoan Nosema apis.

Nuc or Nucleus (plural, nuclei)

A small hive of bees, usually covering from two to five frames of comb and used primarily for starting new colonies, rearing or storing queens.

Nurse bees

Young bees, three to ten days old, which feed and take care of developing brood.


Observation hive

A small bee colony in a hive made largely of glass or clear plastic sides to permit observation of bees at work.


Three little light-gathering eyes on the tops of the heads of honey bees, between their compound eyes. Thought to aid in flight orientation.


An apiary situated away from the home of the beekeeper.


Package bees

A quantity of adult bees (2 to 5 pounds), with or without a queen, contained in a screened shipping cage.


A virus disease of adult bees which affects their ability to use legs or wings normally.


The development of young from unfertilized eggs. In honey bees the un-fertilized eggs produce drones.

PDB (Paradichlorobenzene)

Crystals used as a fumigant to protect stored drawn combs against wax moth.


A chemical secreted by one bee that stimulates behavior in another bee. One well-known bee pheromone is queen substance secreted by the queens.


A series of sounds made by a queen, frequently before she emerges from her cell.

Play (orientation) flight

Short flight taken in front of or near the hive to acquaint young bees with their immediate surroundings; sometimes mistaken for robbing or preparation for swarming.


The male reproductive cell bodies produced by anthers of flowers, collected and used by honey bees as their source of protein.

Pollen basket

A flattened depression located on the outer surface of the bee's hind legs surrounded by curved spines or hairs adapted for carrying pollen gathered from flowers or propolis to the hive.

Pollen cakes

Moist mixtures of either pollen supplements or substitutes fed to the bees in early spring to stimulate brood rearing.

Pollen substitute

A high protein material such as soybean flour, powdered skim milk, brewer's yeast, or a mixture of these used in place of pollen to stimulate brood rearing.

Pollen supplement

A mixture of pollen and pollen substitutes used to stimulate brood rearing in periods of pollen shortage.

Pollen trap

A device that is fitted to the colony entrance for removing pollen loads from the pollen baskets of returning bees.


The transfer of pollen from the anthers to the stigma of flowers.


The agent that transfers pollen from an anther to a stigma: bees, flies, beetles, etc.


The plant source of pollen used for pollination.

Prime swarm

The first swarm to leave the parent colony, usually with the old queen.


The mouthparts of the bee that form the sucking tube or tongue.


Sap or resinous materials collected from trees or plants by bees and used to strengthen the comb, close up cracks, etc.; also called bee glue.


The third stage in the development (metamorphosis) of the honey bee, during which the organs of the larva are replaced by those that will be used by an adult. Also termed capped stage as each cell is covered with beeswax.



A fully developed female bee, larger and longer than a worker bee. Also called mated queen (a virgin queen is a newly emerged queen who has not yet mated.)

Queen cage

A small cage in which a queen and three or four worker bees may be confined for shipping and/ or introduction into a colony.


Term used to describe a colony with healthy egg-laying queen; opposite is queenless.

Queen cage candy

Candy made by kneading powdered sugar with invert sugar syrup until it forms a stiff dough; used as food in queen cages.

Queen cell

A special elongated cell, resembling a peanut shell, in which the queen is reared. It is usually an inch or more long, has an inside diameter of about 1/3 inch, and hangs down from the comb in a vertical position.

Queen clipping

Removing a portion of one or both front wings of a queen to prevent her from flying.

Queen cup

A cup-shaped cell made of beeswax or plastic which hangs vertically in a hive and which may become a queen cell if an egg or larva is placed in it and bees add wax to it.

Queen excluder

Metal or plastic device with spaces that permit the passage of workers but restrict the movement of drones and queens to a specific part of the hive.

Queen substance

Pheromone material secreted from glands in the queen bee and transmitted throughout the colony by workers to alert other workers of the queen's presence. It also stabilizes swarms, attracts drones to virgin queen for mating and inhibits development of new queen cells.



A narrow ledge, often covered with piece of folded metal that is cut into the inside upper end of the hive body from which the frames are suspended.

Rendering wax

The process of melting combs and cappings and removing refuse from the wax.


To replace existing queen with new queen (see introducing cage) or capped queen cell.


Stealing of nectar, or honey, by bees from other colonies.

Royal jelly

A highly nutritious glandular secretion of young bees, used to feed the queen and young brood.



A brood disease of honey bees caused by a virus.

Scout bees

Worker bees searching for a new source of pollen, nectar, propolis, water, or a new home for a swarm of bees.

Sealed brood

See Capped brood.


The transfer of pollen from anther to stigma of the same plant.

Self-spacing frames

Frames constructed with shouldered end bars so that they are a bee space apart when pushed together in a hive body.


An older, traditional beehive design made of twisted straw without movable frames.

Slatted rack

A wooden rack that fits between the bottom board and hive body. This optional piece of hive equipment enables bees to make better use of the lower brood chamber with increased brood rearing, less comb gnawing, and less congestion at the front entrance.


The refuse from melted comb and cappings after the wax has been rendered or removed.

Small hive beetle

A scavenger beetle that is a beehive/honey house pest accidentally introduced into the U.S.


A device in which burlap, wood shavings, or other slow-burning materials are used to produce smoke which is used to subdue bees.

Solar wax extractor

A glass-covered insulated box used to melt wax from combs and cappings using the heat of the sun.


A special organ of the queen in which the sperm of the drone is stored.

Spur embedder

A device used for mechanically embedding wires into foundation.


The modified ovipositor of a honey bee used to deliver a painful venom, by workers in defense of the hive, by queens to kill rival queens.


Principal sugar found in nectar.


Any hive body used for the storage of surplus honey. Normally it is placed over or above the brood chamber.


A natural replacement of an established queen by a daughter in the same hive.

Surplus honey

Honey that exceeds that needed by bees for their own use and can be removed (harvested) for human consumption or otherwise.


The aggregate of worker bees, drones, and usually the old queen that leaves the parent colony to establish a new colony. See also Afterswarms.


The natural method of propagation of the honey bee colony. Also refers to the actual process of bees exiting the hive.

Swarm cell

Developing queen cell usually found on the bottom of the combs reared by bees before swarrning.



An antibiotic used to treat European foulbrood. Also used for American foulbrood prevention but is not effective in killing the spore stage of this disease.

Thin super foundation

A comb foundation used for comb honey or chunk honey production which is thinner than that used for brood rearing.

Tracheal (acarine) mite

Acarapis woodi, a tiny tracheal infesting honey bee parasite.


The process of changing bees and combs from non-standard or fixed-comb boxes, bee tress, etc into movable frame hives.

Travel stain

The dark discoloration on the surface of comb honey left on the hive for some time, caused by bees tracking propolis over the surface.


Uncapping knife

A knife used to shave or remove the cappings from combs of sealed honey prior to extraction; usually heated by steam or electricity.


Combining two or more colonies to form a larger colony.


Varroa mite

Varroa destructor, a parasitic mite of adult and pupal stages of honey bees.

Venom allergy (hypersensitivity)

A condition in which a person, when stung, may experience a variety of symptoms ranging from extensive selling, a mild rash or itchiness to anaphylactic shock. A person who is stung and experiences abnormal symptoms should consult a physician before working bees again.

Virgin queen

An unmated queen.


Wax glands

The eight glands that secrete beeswax; located in pairs on the last four visible ventral abdominal segments.

Wax moth

Larvae of the moth Galleria mellonella, which seriously damages brood and empty combs. May also refer to other, smaller moths that are also hive pests.

Wild bee

A non-Apis bee or sometimes a feral colony of honey bees.

Winter cluster

A spherical shaped clumping of adult bees within the hive during winter.

Worker bee

A female bee whose reproductive organs are undeveloped. Worker bees do all the work in the colony except for laying fertile eggs.

Worker comb

Comb measuring about five cells to the inch, in which workers are reared and honey and pollen are stored.