Glossary of Terms

  • Beeswax: waxy material produced by worker bees and used to build combs.
  • Drones: Male bees whose main function in the colony is to fertilize the queen. Drones make up a very small percentage of the total colony. In the fall, drones are expelled from the hive by the female worker bees.
  • Foundation: Thin sheets of beeswax imprinted with a pattern of honey comb. The beekeeper installs these sheets into wooden frames as “starters” for the bees in making uniform combs.
  • Frames: The removable wooden structures which are placed in the hive. The bees build their comb within these frames. The removable quality allows the beekeeper to easily inspect the colony.
  • Hive Bodies: The first one or two wooden boxes of the colony. The hive bodies contain the brood nest of the colony.
  • Larva: The grub-like, immature form of the bee, after it has developed from the egg and before it has gone into the pupa stage.
  • Nectar: Sweet fluid produced by flowers is 60% water and 40% solids. This is collected by the bees and converted into honey at 17 -18% moisture content.
  • Pollen: Very small dust-like grain produced by flowers. These are the male germ cells of the plant.
  • Propolis: Sticky, brownish gum gathered by bees from trees and buds and used to seal cracks and drafts in the hive (also called “bee-glue”).
  • Pupa: The immature form of the bee (following the larval stage) while changing into the adult form.
  • Queen: A completely developed female bee (with functioning ovaries) who lays eggs and serves as the central focus of the colony. There is only one queen in a colony of bees. A Queen’s productive life span is 2-3 years.
  • Royal Jelly: The milky white secretion of young nurse bees. It is used to feed the queen throughout her life and is given to worker and drone larvae only during their early larval lives.
  • Super: The supplementary wooden boxes placed on top of the hive body to expand the size of the colony, and to provide for storage of surplus honey.
  • Supercedure: When a colony with an old or failing queen rears a daughter to replace her.
  • Swarm (Swarming): When a hive swarms, the queen bee and roughly half of the worker bees are moving to a new location to begin another beehive. They pile up and send out scout bees to find the ideal new home (a hollow tree for example). When the scouts determine the new home (they actually check out each other’s choices and make a communal decision) the entire swarm takes off in a “galaxy of bees” and flies to their new place. If you see a swarm click here.
  • Workers: Completely developed female bees that do have developed ovaries and do not normally lay eggs. They gather pollen and nectar and convert the nectar to honey. A worker’s life expectancy is only several weeks during the active summer months. However, they can live for many months during the relatively inactive winter period.