15 September 2013

Back to Jumbos

Earlier in the year I decided to house a swarm in two shallow super boxes (MD shallows/Langstroth mediums) rather than the Jumbo Langstroths (same depth as Dadant, but only 10 frames) I usually use. I mentioned it in my post "A swarm in May".

I reasoned that plenty of people keep their bees in double brood and, although these boxes are shallow, two of them were about the same as Tom Seeley's recommended 40 litres for a swarm, so should have been fine. If it worked well with this one colony then I would be able to transfer all my colonies to these boxes, making everything cross-compatible - no more messing about with two sizes of box and two sizes of frame.

I was initially fairly enthusiastic, it all seemed to go very well. The bees were fine, the queen was laying well. They were warm and dry, and should have had enough space to do whatever they wanted. Or did they?

4 September 2013

Caramelised pineapple dessert

A delicious, and very quick and easy, dessert recipe using fresh pineapple and honey which can be used as a topping for meringue baskets, a basis for tart tatin or in a tasty trifle.

  • 1/2 pineapple, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 -> 3 tablespoons good honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon (small pinch) of either five spice powder or ground star anise

16 August 2013

Combining colonies

On last inspection I realised that one of my colonies wasn't going anywhere useful. This is the one that had a drone laying queen, and had made both what appeared to be a queen cell and an elongated 'drone queen' cell. I couldn't see any eggs or larvae, so there was no active queen and, fortunately, no laying workers either. A test frame from another colony had shown they were eager to produce a new queen - but it's getting a bit late in the late in the year, and it would be mid-September before the colony had its' own foragers.

The brood box was also top-heavy with drones which were clambering over each other on all surfaces, so much so that I suspected that this hive was attracting all local drones that had been evicted from their home colonies. (I've read that this can happen, but have never before seen evidence for myself.)

There were three things I could do:

13 August 2013

Blackcurrant and Honey Jam

I tasted some Blackcurrant and Honey Jam, having ambushed a Class winner after a recent Honey Show. It had the usual slightly tart flavour of blackcurrants with an added, but quite subtle, aftertaste of good quality, strong, honey. It was absolutely delicious.

As there was a decent crop of blackcurrants this year, more than needed to add flavour to basic apple pies, I decided to make some of this jam myself.

The recipe I used isn't quite the same as the one I was given, because when I checked online there were several versions, each with a different ration of fruit:sugar:water. I decided to keep to the ratios I've always used for blackcurrant jam.

26 July 2013

Drone layers and queen cells

We all hope that a new queen will mate successfully, but it doesn't always work out that way. Bees do work to a timetable, once the colony has got going, but a new queen will sometimes bide her time before starting to lay. It might be nice to see if a new queen is laying, and to be able to see eggs, but a too early check can be disruptive for the colony - and there's always that risk of crushing the queen.

Two of my colonies should have had actively laying queens by, at the latest, 5th - 8th July. The latest time the first eggs would be capped would be 15th July, so there wasn't any real need to open up before then.When I inspected I was disappointed to find that both colonies had drone laying queens.

Nucleus headed by poorly mated queen
I wasn't really surprised that the little queen that was found in the bee shed hadn't mated well, but it was disappointing all the same.

This is what I saw:

The signs of a drone laying queen are clear -  there's a good laying pattern, but there are only sealed drone cells.

30 June 2013

Fishing line and brood frames

There's a popular trend to try to return to more natural, and less industry-dependent, ways of doing things - if we can. In beekeeping one of the ways of achieving this is to let the bees draw their own comb with less interference from the beekeeper. It takes quite a leap of faith to move away from the apparent security, ease and speed of construction, of using complete sheets of commercially pre-wired, cell-imprinted, pressed foundation that is available from all 'big' beekeeping suppliers, but I think almost all beekeepers who try it will never completely return to the 'old ways' - more especially if they buy beautiful foundation from specialists suck as Peter Kemble.

Unwired frames are fine for shallows, especially if used for cut comb, but large (deep) brood frames such as Dadant, Langstroth Jumbo, 14x12 National and 'Commercial' are a different matter. A lapse of concentration during an inspection can lead to new comb slumping from the frame, taking eggs and developing larvae with it - a disaster and a mess for both bees and beekeeper. So brood frames need to be strengthened, usually by wiring.

27 June 2013

ISP safety filters and beekeeping porn

Our internet service provider has automatically switched on some handy new features including 'HomeSafe', which they reckon will, "[Help] our customers keep their families safer online". Kind of them, don't you think, to make sure that nobody in this household can visit dodgy websites that could transmit a nasty virus or show us unexpectedly rude pictures.

Our first experience of this safety filter was when we tried to follow up an offer of some bin end wine on a supermarket site. Not a chance! The on-screen message tells us we are unable to access the site because it will let us see pictures of alcohol.

Later on I decided to read the most recent updates on Rusty's Honey Bee Suite blog. Nope, it won't let me! The warning tells me:
"The site you tried to access was detected to contain content that falls into the category Pornography, which your HomeSafe settings won't allow."
So there you have it, me and my family need to be protected from beekeeping porn. It made me chuckle when I realised just how often beekeepers talk about unmated virgins, mating flights and so on, but I'd never once thought that these discussions could be thought worthy of being hidden behind an internet filter.

So, Rusty, if you're reading this you'll know why at least one of your UK visitors has disappeared for a while, whilst they work out how to fix their ISP's automatic filter.


20 June 2013

Two beekeepers try to transfer a cast swarm

Another member of my BKA needed a new queen, and if possible some fresh bees to go with her, to repopulate a queenless colony. I offered him a little cast swarm that had arrived in an unoccupied nuc box the day before. He came to the small apiary to collect the colony before they'd had a chance to get themselves too settled.

It seemed a straightforward thing to do, but the only problem was that the other beekeeper uses National hives, and I use Jumbo Langstroths - the frames aren't compatible. He thought the easiest way to move the bees would be to shake them into their new box, which was a clean but well-used wooden 5-frame nucleus, complete with a frame feeder and some lovely new foundation.


19 June 2013

Taranov Split

The idea behind any form of swarm control is to mimic what happens in nature, but it's the beekeeper who makes the decisions, not the workers.

Almost all new beekeepers will be shown how to do one method of swarm control, in Britain it's the Pagden - usually known as an artificial swarm. It's easy enough once you get your head round it, but done properly it involves moving large boxes of bees several times - and the beekeeper has to be able to isolate the queen.

The thing is that I'm absolutely rubbish at finding queens. I can do it, but it's time consuming and disruptive to the colony to either go through the brood box several times looking for her or to split and separate the combs into two boxes so the queen is isolated between two frames. I decided I needed a way of controlling swarming behaviour that would be quick and relatively simple, and that didn't involved a lot of heavy lifting. I settled on using a method designed by G.F. Taranov, which is outlined on Dave Cushman's site. I then got cold feet, mainly because some more experienced beekeepers told me it was far too disruptive.

I recently read more about this Taranov method on Honey Bee Suite, including a guest post, and decided that if it worked for them it should work for me. I also thought I should make up my own mind up about the disruption, and how quickly they settled afterwards.

13 June 2013

Wax foundation

I had only ever seen one new frame being made up during my beginners' classes, and my ignorance and lack of experience (and vanishing 'mentor') meant I didn't realise that the 'new' wax I'd bought from a 'big' beekeeping equipment supplier was actually not as new as it should have been - the surface had developed a bloom.

In my enthusiasm I made up every single frame I'd bought, and carefully waxed each one - to be prepared, although I wasn't entirely sure what I was 'being prepared' for. I also used wired foundation throughout. Nobody had suggested that none of this was a good idea, and nobody suggested that new wax should not have the whiteish, slightly grainy, surface mine had from 'new'. (I buy all my wax foundation from Peter Kemble at Kemble Bee Supplies (KBS). - Do the same, your bees will love you for it.)

I didn't need all the frames immediately and stored them in spare boxes - outside, of course.

10 June 2013

A bad beekeeper delays a swarm

Bees are precious this year because too many colonies were lost during last winter and the cold, late, spring. Colonies that made it through aren't without problems.

Many local beekeepers are reporting that their 'last year's queen' has been superseded or has simply vanished - you will recall that last year was so wet that mating flights were few and far between, so mating was poor.

What have previously been easily-contained colonies of 'local bees' have been swarming. I have caught one swarm in my garden, have been called to collect a swarm in a garden adjacent to another local beekeeper - who is on holiday - but the swarm took off just before I arrived. That beekeeper had caught an earlier swarm just before going away.

This is mirrored within my small apiary. On the first inspection after I fortnight of cold weather I found one colony had lost their queen - there was no sign of either fresh brood or queen cells. One has been split, which I'll describe in another post. One of the colonies is currently superseding, but is continuing to build up rapidly so I need to keep a careful eye on it.

9 June 2013

Propolised, mummified, bumble bee

I found this dead insect on the floor of one of my hives a couple of weeks ago. I think it's a de-haired (except for the punk topknot) and heavily propolised bumble bee.

I think it's likely to be a female - they're the ones that overwinter and search for suitable nesting sites in the Spring.

4 June 2013

Making Dadant shallow Hoffman frames

Every new beekeeper learns how to make frames. Some will learn from youtube, others will learn from their local BKA and may be tested on 'the process' when they do their Basic Assessment. Each beekeeper will, in time, develop their own way of putting frames together.

This is my way, it isn't perfect but it works for me.

Your frames order will probably be packed in a large, heavy, box containing separate bundles of each part - top bars, side bars and bottom bars. If you aren't going to use them straight away you should store them flat, otherwise they can twist or warp with changes in temperature and

2 June 2013

Nasanov Gland and pheromones

I took this picture the other day, just after I'd done a Taranov split. The bees pointing their abdomens in the air are sending a scent message to any bee from the colony that might be slightly lost, and are guiding them home.

Worker bees fanning Nasanov pheromone.
Almost at the end of the abdomen, on the segment before the sting, is a scent gland that produces attractant pheromones. It's called the Nasanov Gland.

To make sure the scent is widely distributed the bee will point its' abdomen upwards and fan its' wings - this moves the pheromone into the surrounding air, it's picked up by other bees' scent receptors on their antennae and mouthparts.

When a lot of bees are fanning this pheromone the scent can be strong enough for us to smell it too. It's lemony, not unlike Lemongrass*, Lemon Balm or Lemon Verbena. We capitalise on this by using a lemony scent in bait hives, hoping we will attract a swarm by persuading scout bees that others have already marked it as good place to live.

28 May 2013

A swarm in May

On Sunday afternoon I was busy frame making. Yes, I know new frames should have been made up during the winter, but thanks to the constant rain of the previous several months the bee shed had been surrounded by a sea of mud and a moat, so was well nigh inaccessible until recently. I'd put the my workmate outside the shed - it's nicer to be outside on a rare sunny day - and was tapping away with my tack hammer when I spotted some movement in an old conifer about thirty yards away.

Swarm in conifer
Just above head height, glinting in the sun, was a lovely swarm. This is the first swarm to land in the small apiary in many years. Perhaps it was attracted to our bees but it's more likely they were lured by the lingering scent from a now vacant (and recently blocked with insect-proof mesh) long-standing feral colony's site. How the bees chose this particular tree is a mystery, but I am grateful they clustered in such an easy-to-reach spot, so could be quickly removed and marched straight into their new home.

I'm fairly confident that this swarm didn't come from any of my colonies. They are in large boxes; still have plenty of space; I haven't yet seen any swarm cells - and these bees are the wrong colour. So it looks as if either a local beekeeper (there are quite a few) has lost a swarm or one of the local feral colonies (there are quite a few) ran out of either food or space and decided to seek a new place to live.

27 May 2013

BBKA Basic Assessment notes: On the day

On the day of the assessment it's very easy to be extremely nervous, to think you've forgotten everything - or believe never knew it in the first place. But those nerves will go, as soon as you're in front of the bees.

Make it easier for yourself
'Be prepared' well in advance, first by attending local classes, reading the study notes book or using online resources. It would be a good idea to make sure you have all the gear ready a couple of days beforehand, to be sure there is no last minute search for some gimp pins, a large matchbox or a tack hammer.

19 May 2013

Apple Blossom Time.

Our fruit trees are, at last, covered with blossom.

There is more blossom per per tree than I've ever seen on these trees, which we planted not long after we moved into this house. I'm not sure why, maybe it's because the ground has been so very wet for so long - it started raining late last Spring and didn't stop for more than a few days at a time until early this year.

It may be that the trees are trying to make up for last year's lost crop - we had apples, or thought we had, until September, but then they all vanished. Not exactly disappeared, but they all dropped off the trees. It was a strange thing because we had no fruit at all. No apples, no pears. Nothing! If we had been dependent on our own crops we would have been in trouble, because virtually all our vegetable crops failed too - either rotted in the ground or eaten by slugs.

16 May 2013

Basic Assessment notes - Part 5 : Disease and Pests

The last section of the syllabus is important, but these notes are brief - mainly because the information is readily available online at Beebase and it seems a bit pointless to paraphrase the experts.

If you are researching bee pests and diseases please follow the appropriate links and read more. Take your time to learn this subject, your bees deserve to be kept safe and healthy.

Beekeepers should, once they are sure the colony has a laying queen, inspect for brood irregularities and the condition of the bees they can see, rather than concentrating solely on the what is right. They should also be able to recognise symptoms of the most common diseases of adult bees.

15 May 2013

Blog stats and referrer spam

Wow! Looking at the stats, this new blog of mine really does seem to be getting a lot of hits.

But ... when something seems too good to be true it usually is. Most of the traffic is coming from Russia, and from just a couple of sites. Nothing wrong with Russia, and nothing wrong with Russian beekeepers, but I couldn't imagine how they might have found my blog so quickly, and why so many would want to read it when it's still so new.

Clicking on one of the links took me to a place where I could watch an animated video telling me how to lose weight. Do they think I need to? (Actually I don't, but that's beside the point.) It was a true Homer Simpson, "Duh!" moment. I had clicked a link I didn't recognise, something I haven't done for ages.

Basic Assessment notes - Part 4: Beekeeping

The Basic Assessment's syllabus is very broad. In fact it's massive. It is an introduction to every aspect of beekeeping except microscopy.

The later, much more challenging, modules cover only one knowledge area at a time and in much greater depth. The module exams are written papers, taken under exam conditions.

Assessing a beekeeper's knowledge for the Basic comprises a practical hive inspection followed by oral questions. Both should be completed within an hour - the examiner is expected to cover as much as they can, to make sure there are no serious knowledge gaps. So it's a fairly quick sweep through as much of the syllabus as possible, otherwise the examiner will end up running late which can prove stressful for candidates who are waiting for their assessment.

13 May 2013

Basic Assessment notes - Part 3 : Natural History of the Honeybee

I think it's important to remember that this syllabus is for the 'Basic Beekeeping' qualification - the first, and for some the last, beekeeping assessment they will take. The syllabus contains a lot - because beekeeping involves knowing a lot, but the basic care of a few colonies of bees doesn't require a depth of knowledge of every single aspect of beekeeping and bee biology. That knowledge can come later, as confidence and a need or desire to know more, develops.

I've underlined what I think are key words in each part of this section of the syllabus. This is because even the newest of beekeepers will probably have read books containing whole chapters describing any one of the topics listed below (- and as you're reading this blog you will have done a web search, and may have landed on this page long after reading piles of stuff elsewhere -) and there's a risk of wanting to regurgitate pages and pages of details. This is not necessary when preparing for the Basic.

11 May 2013

A Swarm ... of Honey Bees

Is this a swarm?
If you're reading this page because you have discovered what you think is a swarm of honey bees in a tree, on a post, a car bumper or the outside of a building, you need to be sure it is swarm of honey bees. Check first by doing an image search and/or visiting the BBKA site, which has several pictures of swarms.

Is this a colony of Honey Bees?
If you have bees living in a building, a tree or in the ground then they might not be honey bees.
  • Insects with yellow and black stripes and an almost hairless body, living in a papery-looking nest in a shed, an attic, or in a tree or hedge, are probably wasps or hornets (Vespa crabro - friendly giants).
  • If the bees you can see are large and very hairy, maybe thumbnail sized and living in a bird box or a hole in the ground, they are more likely to be bumble bees.
  • If there are only a few smallish bees, entering and leaving a pencil-sized entrance in a wall or a bank, they could be solitary bees - mason bees etc. (There are over 200 species of solitary bees in the British Isles).
  • If the bees are not bumble bees, and there are a lot of smallish (little fingernail sized) bees coming and going through a hole of about an inch diameter (2.5cm) in a tree, in brickwork, near a window frame, in a roof or a chimney and some of them (not all of them) are arriving at the nest entrance carrying something yellow or orange (pollen or propolis) on their back legs, they could be honey bees.
Bumble bees and solitary bees are unlikely to sting. They will build up small colonies during a season, but do not make large permanent nests. Towards the end of their season, which may be July or August, the colony raises a number of fertile queens. These are the individual bees that overwinter, on their own. These not-honey-bees are unlikely to return to the same nest site the following year.

If you are sure you have honey bees, and would like them collected or removed you can find contact details your nearest swarm collector via the BBKA site, and on Honey Bee Swarm Collectors UK.

Swarming is the honey bees' means of reproduction. Individual honey bees cannot go off and start a new colony on their own - they have to work together, have to stay together, and have to keep the queen healthy and safe from predators. Seeley calls a colony of bees a 'superorganism' - a single organism comprising many individuals, much the same principle as corals or sponges, with honeycomb being the framework of their home.

What is a swarm.
A swarm of honey bees contains a number of flying worker bees, drones, and a queen. She could be a newly-emerged, unmated, virgin queen or an older, mated queen.

8 May 2013

Basic Assessment notes - Part 2 : Equipment

This is the shortest section of the assessment syllabus, and the most straightforward to answer because as soon as you start buying or making equipment the words get drilled into your head.

There are, of course, variations in hive designs but the language used is always the same.

The Candidate will be:
2.1 able to name and explain the function of the principal parts of a modern beehive;
Top downwards :-
  • Roof ~ metal outer layer, often over wood frame, deep sided for weather protection, insulation to maintain stable temperatures. May have notches for ventilation.
  • Crown board ~ inner lid. May have a hole for feeding or inserting a gizmo for clearing honey supers. Keeps propolis away from the lid, and so stops it from getting stuck down.

7 May 2013

Basic Assessment notes - Part 1 : Manipulation of a Honeybee Colony

The first section covers what any beekeeper will know once they've inspected their own colonies a few times. It's straightforward stuff, and should be almost automatic but it does look an awful lot now it's written down - and this is only a fifth of the syllabus.

Please remember that these are my notes, there might be too much information for your needs, or maybe not enough - follow the links if you want to read more on other sites.

The Candidate will be aware of:
1.1 the care needed when handling a colony of honeybees; 
Calmly and without any sudden movements.
Careful handling of frames and replacing of lid etc to minimise crushing.

6 May 2013

Asian Hornet

In April DEFRA updated its' warning about the "Early Detection of the Asian Hornet" (Vespa velutina). Updates and warnings will only be sent to beekeepers who have registered with Beebase as well as, presumably, to local beekeeping organisations which may, or may not, pass on information to their members.

This voracious predator of honey bees is, apparently, now in Normandy and is likely to arrive in Britain before too long.

It's important to take time make sure you can identify it, and make absolutely sure that what you have seen, or caught, is not the native hornet (Vespa crabro) which isn't as much of a problem for our bees - because they have evolved to deal with it and, generally, our hive entrances are too small for it to be able to get into the hive. One recommendation, to prevent the Asian hornet entering our hives, is to reduce the entrance to 5.5mm height.

Traps can be made. They don't look much, but experience in France has proved them to be adequate. The idea is to trap queens coming out of hibernation in early Spring. This French site (written in English) has recent photographs of the Asian Hornet, diagrams of a trap, and a link to a French-based forum.

There is more information on the BBKA website and the Non-native Species Secretariat.

If you suspect you have caught one of these hornets you should put the insect in your freezer and send a photograph to:- alert_nonnative@ceh.ac.uk They will tell you what to do next.


BBKA Basic Assessment syllabus 2013 2014 2015 2016

This is the syllabus for BBKA Basic Assessment Syllabus (2013*), taken from the BBKA website.

The BBKA website will, of course, be updated to contain later versions of this syllabus -  

* There have been significant changes to the syllabus for 2016, as follows :-
A pass in the Basic Assessment is a prerequisite for entry into all other assessments.
1. Conditions of Entry
1.1 The Candidate shall have managed at least one colony of bees for a minimum of 12 months. 
1.2 The entry form and fee shall have been received by the Local Examination Secretary, or the Secretary of the BBKA Examinations Board.
2. The Assessment
2.1 An Assessor, approved by the Board, is required to conduct the Assessment at any suitable apiary. Normally only the Assessor and Candidate shall be present at the Assessment. The Board may wish a trainee Assessor or member of the Board to be present as an observer. 
2.2 The Assessment shall consist of four parts and the Candidate must achieve the pass mark in all four parts individually in order to pass the Assessment as a whole. The pass mark is 50% in each part. A credit will be awarded if the total mark is 75% or greater. The parts are: 
2.2.1 Manipulation and Equipment. Practical Assessment of the Candidate’s ability to handle bees and beekeeping equipment and the ability to interpret what is observed. 
2.2.2 Oral questioning and Assessment of the Candidate’s knowledge of Natural History and Beekeeping. 
2.2.3 Oral questioning on Swarming, Swarm Control and effects. 
2.2.4 Oral questioning on Diseases, Pests and Poisoning, 
2.3 Scientific names, although useful and show a greater depth of knowledge, are not required.
The length of the Assessment should not normally exceed one hour.

*there has been no change to the syllabus for 2015 but from 2015 the Basic Assessment will be graded as follows:
The exam board has decided to implement the ADM proposition to grant a credit if the candidate gets more than 75% in the 'Basic. The pass is 50% and the large majority pass so at least there will be some idea of the candidates abilities.
At first glance the syllabus looks too big, too complicated, and too full of difficult and scary stuff - stuff that will take ages to learn or revise. In reality there's nothing new because the syllabus comprises only what any beekeeper will (should) know after they've kept bees for a complete year - but few beekeepers realise how much they know, because they've never seen it all written down in one place.

29 April 2013

Are my bees doing the right thing for the time of year?

It can be difficult to know what is going on inside a hive when it's cold, but by using an acrylic crown board you can take off the roof and get a glimpse of what the bees are doing without disturbing, or chilling, them. If it's early spring, and a lot of bees are near the frame tops it could be a sign that they're running short of food. Hefting the hive could confirm this.

Another way of finding out what's happening is to take careful note of bee activity at the front of the hive. Seeing many bees flying close to, and facing, the front of the hive whilst making figure of eight flights, is a fairly safe indicator that these are new bees taking orientation flights.

21 April 2013

Basic Equipment for a hobby beekeeper

When you start beekeeping you need some protective clothing, sturdy footwear, gloves, a hive tool and a smoker. 

It's important to protect the eyes - a sting in the eyeball can lead to permanent eye damage or blindness.

Bees always seem to crawl upwards to try to get to a safe place, they move towards the highest and darkest places they can find. If you drop a frame of bees, or a brood box, or a super, there will be a lot of angry, confused and disorientated bees starting their upward journey from the ground. It's quite important to make sure that they don't take refuge in your socks, shoes or trousers, so tucking trousers into calf-height boots of some sort is a good idea. Plastic wellies are relatively cheap, and can be easily disinfected.

17 April 2013

Overview of 2012 - 2013

It's hard to know where to start when trying to explain what went wrong during a beekeeping year, because the roots for a poor season start to develop during the previous year. The winter of 2011-2012 was harsh and cold, but bees can cope with the cold as long as they have enough food and their home protects them from the weather.

The year started cold, then it warmed up quite quickly. The bees enjoyed this early hot spell and built up earlier than usual, so much so that some beekeepers were caught out and lost early swarms.

Then it rained, and rained, and rained.

In our part of the country it rained almost constantly from April through to December, this affected almost every possible aspect of beekeeping.

15 April 2013

Beekeeping Glossary

I constantly referred to online beekeeping and apiculture glossaries when I started out, but most were US-based** which meant that some of the terms were a bit confusing. I ended up making my own glossary of beekeeping terms in a notebook. The contents of that notebook formed the first draft of this page, which will continue to be updated and, hopefully, improved and extended over time.

An extension to this glossary is a page of Beekeeping Acronyms and Abbreviations.

Beekeeping Glossary

Abdomen: Segmented rear (third) part of bee's body containing heart, honey, stomach, intestines, reproductive organs, and/or sting.
Abscond: Term used when a colony abandons a hive, leaving behind an empty box and a bewildered beekeeper. Could be due to lack of laying space (too much stores) or could be a swarm that was taken only a short while before it was to move from the branch into a more permanent home, or if it decides the beekeeper's hive is too large or too small.
Acarapis woodii : Scientific name of acarine mite, which infests tracheae of bees.
Acarine : Disease caused by Acarapis woodi.
Almond oil: Sometimes used in spray solution as a bee-clearer for supers.
American foul brood (AFB): Notifiable. Contagious bacterial disease of bee larvae caused by Paenibacillus larvae larvae. In UK outbreaks MUST be reported to FERA.
Amm: Apis mellifera mellifera -The European dark bee, sometimes called the British or German black bee. "Linnaeus 1758 is a subspecies and northern geographical race of Apis mellifera, the western honeybee." (quote SICAMM) Subject of research by BIBBA and CoOperative
Antennae: Pair of thin, segmented, jointed and flexible feelers on head of insects. Contain sense organs.
Anther: Male part of a flower that produces pollen
Apiary: Name given to the place where one or more colonies bees and their hives are kept.
Apiculture: Technical term for beekeeping. Mid 19th century: from Latin apis 'bee' + culture, on the pattern of words such as agriculture..(from OED)
Apiphobia: Acute, occasionally irrational, fear of bees or anything related to bees.Apis: The genus of insects to which the honey bee belongs. Apis = Latin 'bee'.
Apis mellifera: Latin term for the European Honey Bee. Apis = bee; mel = honey; fera, from ferus = wild animal
Artificial insemination: Known in beekeeping as Instrumental Insemination (II) - the queen is inseminated with mixed semen from a number of drones.
Ashforth Feeder: Square or rectangular rapid (syrup) feeder with entrance across the whole width of one end of the container.
Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax): Fierce, aggressive, predator of honey bees which was unintentionally imported to France 2005, and has spread rapidly throughout Europe. FERA/APHA monitors sentinel apiaries. Vigilance important - read Beebase information. Report sightings to Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk

Bait hive: Container of approximately 40l capacity used to attract a swarm
Bald Brood: More usually caused by wax moth larvae eating their way through sealed brood, just beneath the cappings. Bees will chew cappings of diseased larvae.
Balling: Term used to describe what happens when worker bees do not accept a new queen. They crowd round her in a ball, and will either sting her to death, cause her to overheat or to suffocate, or the ball of bees will move to the hive entrance where she will be evicted.
Bee: Flying insect. Kingdom: Animal; Phylum: Arthropod; Class: Insecta; Order: Hymenoptera; Suborder: Apocrita; Superfamily: Apoidea; Family: Apidae; Species: Apis.
Beebase: BeeBase is the Animal and Plant Health Agency's (APHA) National Bee Unit website. It is designed for beekeepers and supports Defra, WAG and Scotland's Bee Health Programmes and the Healthy Bees Plan, which set out to protect and sustain our valuable national bee stocks.
Bee bread: Pollen, stored and used by bees for food.
Bee escape: Gadget used to prevent bees from returning to a honey super, which makes it easier to remove the honey frames from the hive. (Rhombus escape can be quicker than the Porter bee escape, which can get jammed by drones if not carefully adjusted).
Bee louse: see Braula coeca.
Bee paralysis virus (BPV): A chronic and acute adult bee disease caused by different viruses.
Bee space: The space needed for one bee to move easily. A single beespace is left between the top and bottom of frames, double bee space between brood frames. 8mm = diameter of a standard pencil. Defining 'bee space' enabled the development of removable frame hives - attributed to Lorenzo Langstroth. Gaps greater than 9mm will be usually filled with brace comb, gaps less than 4mm will be often filled with propolis.
Bee yard: US term for an Apiary
Beekeepers' back: Common condition of beekeepers caused by frequent bending and lifting to/from too low a height. May be exacerbated by too-low hive stands and poor lifting technique. (See Dave Cushman's page).
Bees: Plural of bee - no apostrophe required. 
Beeswax: Wax plates are secreted from wax glands on the underside of a bee's abdomen, it is moulded by bees to make comb and cappings.
BIAS: Acronym for brood in all stages of development - eggs, open larvae, sealed brood.
Black Queen Virus (BQV): Inner surfaces of infected queen cells turn black - associated with nosema.
BPV: Bee Paralysis Virus - coverall term for undiagnosed symptoms of paralysis - shiny bees, shivering on the ground in the front of the hive.
Brace comb: Comb built between, and attached to, other combs or between combs and wall, floor, or roof of hive.
Braula coeca: Bee louse - relatively harmless parasite, rarely seen since advent of varroa because it is killed by varroacides.
Brood: Immature stages of bees' development - eggs, larvae and pupae.
Brood and a half: Practice of using a deep and a shallow box as brood rearing area. More commonly needed with large colonies in British Standard National hives.
Brood box: Usually the lowermost, and largest, box of a hive, where brood is reared.
Brood chamber: Box, part, or area of hive where brood is reared.
Buckfast bee: Hybrid bee developed by Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey after Isle of Wight Disease (probably Acarine) almost completely destroyed the British bee population. Intended to be hardy like the black bee, disease-resistant like the Italian bee, and a good honey producer.
Burr comb: Comb built to look like a burr, often on top bars, above a crown board etc..
BWYRG:  "Be Warned You Require Gloves" - Acronym/Mnemonic for internationally recognised queen marking colour/year - Blue(0/5) / White(1/6) / Yellow(2/7) / Red(3/8) / Green(4/9)

Capped brood: Brood that has been capped with a semi-permeable mixture of pollen, propolis and wax.
Capped honey: Ripened honey (less than 20% H2O) in cell that is closed, or sealed/capped, with wax.
Cappings: Covering of cells. Wax over sealed honey stores; mixture of propolis, wax, pollen over brood.
Carniolan: Apis mellifera carnica.Sub-species of Honey Bee, originating from Carniola (now Slovenia). When housed in a standard British National hive it may be necessary to use brood and a half to contain the large colony.
Cast Swarm: Second or later swarm of the season. Comprises virgin (unmated) queen and flying bees. Depending on the size of the original colony it may be no larger than a grapefruit or a tennis ball. Sometimes called 'after swarms' because they come after the prime swarm. Cast swarms are formed when second, third or later queen cells emerge.
Castes: The two types of female bees ~ worker and queen. 
Caucasian: Apis mellifera caucasica. Race (sub-species) of bee originating in Caucasus Mountains.
Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV): Virus which attacks adult bees, who shake and lose body hairs. Can be fatal to colony. More information on Beebase.
Cell: Name given to the six-sided single space in a honeycomb where eggs are laid, brood raised, and honey or pollen are stored. Worker cells are smaller than drone cells. (Queen cells are not hexagonal, are built out from the surface of the comb.)
Chalk Brood: Fungal brood infection (Ascosphaera apis). Infected larvae die, dry out and shrink, their cells are uncapped by workers. Chalk brood 'mummies' will fall from cells when the frame is tilted. Can be exacerbated by poor ventilation, damp conditions and stress. Requeening best known solution, although thymol can be effective in some cases. 'Old' beekeepers used to sprinkle salt on top bars, so could also be linked to a mineral deficiency.
Checkerboarding: Commonly used in USA to either prevent swarming or expand honey storage area in supers. Raise alternate frames to next box upwards, replacing with new frames - so new frame is directly above or below an in-use one.
Chilled brood: Brood (eggs/larvae) that has died because it has got too cold, or colony has overexpanded due to early Spring, which then reverts to normal and colony clusters overnight and abandons some of the brood. Unlikely to 'chill' brood when transferring frame from one colony to another
Chop and crop: Means of chopping frames and comb using secateurs and wire cutters, to transfer a framed colony to a top bar hive. Reviled by some due to the damage and destruction of comb and brood, advocated by some who vehemently dislike framed hives.
Chunk honey: Jar of honey containing a piece of cut comb large enough to be secured in position when the lid is on. The rest of the jar is filled with clear, run, honey.
Cleansing flight: Often the first flight of the new season, when bees cleanse their guts. The faeces stick effectively to car windscreens.
Clearer Board: Flat board, with the same footprint as hive box, having one or more bee escapes. Used for clearing bees prior to harvesting honey.
Clearing: Process of 'clearing' (removing) bees from a super full of honey, to make removing full honey frames less challenging. 
Contact feeder: Glass or plastic container for syrup feed that has small holes or fine wire mesh on the lid, allowing it to be inverted and place on top bars or above 'feeder hole' in crown board. Bees take syrup directly, and quickly.
Cloudy Wing Virus (CWV): Bees' wings lose transparency, infected bees die. Not to be confused with specks of fondant adhering to the wings.
Cluster: A winter cluster comprises all the bees in the colony, gathered closely together with bodies overlapping, to retain and maintain temperature as well as protecting the queen. It looks like a swarm.
Comb: (See honeycomb). Housel positioning, by Michael Bush.
Cover cloth: aka Manipulation cloth. Used to cover top of box of bees during an inspection.
Crown board: Flat board placed directly above brood box to keep bees away from the roof. A crown board does not have a hole, although many manufacturers market combi-crown/feeder boards as crown boards.
Crystallise: The sugars in honey will naturally form crystals over time. Some honeys crystallise rapidly, so need to be extracted soon after capping - e.g.Oil Seed Rape, others may take months. All honey can be gently heated in a waterbath or bain marie to liquefy.
Crush and strain: Method of removing honey by taking comb, crushing and straining through a sieve.
Cut comb honey: Honey in the comb, cut from the frame and sold as a block.

Dance: aka Waggle Dance
Dearth: Time when no, or not very much, nectar and/or pollen are available. e.g. "June Gap".
Demaree: Method of swarm control where the queen is separated vertically from most of the brood. Colony can be split, or recombined when swarming season over.
Divider or division board: Flat board, bigger than a frame, used to divide a box so it can house two or more colonies. Bees cannot pass around edges of this board.
Draw / Drawing: Building comb. Bees 'draw' comb from a sheet of foundation. 
Drawn comb: Comb having the cells built out (drawn) by honey bees from a sheet of foundation
Drift: Bees 'drift' from their home hive to adjacent ones. Can transfer disease. Can be reduced by ensuring entrances face different directions, marking entrances with different colours, or providing landing boards with distinct and individual patterns.
Drone: Male bee, whose sole purpose is to inseminate a virgin queen. Heavily build, good eyesight, muscular. Does not eat, does not forage. Most are evicted from the colony in autumn. Varroa are attracted to drone brood because of longer development - emerges 24 days after egg is laid. (3/7/14 = 24). Cells have domed cappings.
Drone congregation area (DCA): Area where drones from local colonies gather to mate with queens during their mating flights. Usually high above a geographical feature. First identified by Gilbert White in his book "A Natural History of Selborne".
Drone layer: A queen laying unfertilized eggs which develop into drones. Caused by poor mating, non-mating or running out of sperm due to age. Brood pattern often near 'normal', although may be patchy. Term also, sometimes, used for laying workers.
Drone laying queen (DLQ): See above
Drone Brood Trapping: The practice of encouraging the colony to produce drone brood by using a shallower than normal-for-hive frame. Once capped the drone cells are inspected for varroa and removed. Not recommended to do more than twice per colony per season due to time wasting and stress.
Dummy Board: A piece of solid wood, plywood or correx cut to the exact dimensions of a frame, but attached to a narrower top bar - used as a divider, allowing bees to access other areas of the hive. A dummy board should not be merely a frame filled with plywood or correx.
Dysentery: Often first indicated by splatters of yellow or brown bee faeces on the outside of the hive. Can be caused by Nosema apis and exacerbated by stress, by prolonged rain, a poorly situated hive (on damp ground), by poor diet, by eating too dilute nectar, by starvation followed by feeding, by damp cool weather conditions, by general malaise etc. May be relieved by feeding thymolated syrup, but often leads to the death of a small colony because there are not enough healthy bees to raise brood.

Eke: Shallow box, usually 2 to 3 inches deep, having the same footprint as a brood box. Used to provide space for feeding fondant, treating with thymol, or  for e.g. 'converting' national to 14x12. Can be made of (scrap) wood or cut from a slab of insulation material Joints must be beeproof
Emerge: Bees emerge from their cells when metamorphosis is complete. Bees are not born, nor do bees hatch - larvae hatch from eggs.
Entrance: Where bees leave and enter their home. Beekeeper varies the entrance width and depth according to time of year, number of bees and threats from predators.
EOS: Acronym for Eggs, Open, Sealed - referring to brood stages; for apiary notes.
European foulbrood (EFB): Notifiable bacterial brood disease caused by Melissococcus plutonius. Beebase information here
EUS: Acronym for Eggs, Uncapped, Sealed - referring to brood; used for apiary notes.
Extractor: Mechanical device that rotates honeycombs at sufficient speed to remove honey from cells.
Extrafloral nectaries: Some plants produce nectar outside the flowers, these nectaries are usually at, or near, leaf nodes; on stems or beneath the calyx. e.g. Laurel, paeony, plum, broad bean.

Fanning: Worker bees fan their wings to spread pheromones, to air condition the hive or to ripen honey.
Festoon: Chains of bees commonly seen during wax building. They could be using gravity to ensure comb is vertical, could be ensuring correct spacing.
Field bees: Worker bees that are mature enough to fly from the hive on foraging missions; also sometimes called forager bees or foragers.
Floor: Floor of beehive, in UK is usually made using a section of mesh with 8-10 holes per inch which will allow varroa to fall through. (see OMF)
Flow: Honey flow - time when high volumes of nectar are brought back to the hive. 
Foundation: Thin sheet of beeswax or plastic pressed and imprinted to form basis for cells. Wired for brood comb, or honey frames that will be extracted; thin and unwired for cut comb.
Frame: Rectangular, wooden structure given to bees for them to build comb. Hangs within hive on 'lugs'.
Frame rest: Ledge within the hive on which frames rest, beespace beneath frame end.
Frame feeder: An feeder, shaped like a hollowed frame, filled with syrup placed inside the hive alongside frames. Can drown bees if no float or ramp is used.

Gloves: Worn by many beekeepers to protect their hands from stings and to reduce propolis staining. Should be washed regularly to remove pheromones, nectar, propolis and to reduce the incidence of disease transfer between apiaries.
Grafting: In queen rearing. Transfer of small larvae from worker cells to queen cups
Granulation: Term sometimes used instead of crystallisation - when honey crsystallises or sets, can be in the comb or in the jar.
Guard bees: Bees aged 19-21 days, which guard entrance and fly only short distances

Hatch: Eggs hatch into larvae after 3 days, irrespective of caste. 
Hefting: Checking approximate weight of winter stores by using scales or by lifting the back of the hive with one hand. Gives a rough comparison with earlier weights, nothing more. If hive can be lifted with two fingers then stores may be critically low. 
Hive: Artificial home provided for bees. A framed hive comprises floor, brood box, super(s), roof. (In USA a 'hive' is often used when referring to a 'colony' of bees)
Hive number or name: Unique reference given to a colony, important for record keeping. Usually follows the queen.
Hive records: Essential part of beekeeping, ensures beekeeper knows what has been done and what is planned; what went wrong, and what didn't. Medicine Record cards are a statutory requirement in UK.
Hive stand: Structure on which a hive rests. As a minimum it will raise the hive off the ground to ensure air passed beneath the hive floor and will ensures debris drops through mesh floor to the ground. At best it will raise the hive to a workable height, and reduce the likelihood of developing 'beekeepers' back'.
Hive tool: Metal implement, with either a j-hook or a chiselled hook at one end and a scraper at the other. Used to manipulate frames, scrape wax & propolis from hive parts etc..
HMF: Hydroxymethyl furfural - substance formed when honey is overheated or stored for too long at too high a temperature.
Hoffman frame: Self-spacing frame, made of wood or plastic.
Honey: Sweet, viscous, fluid made by bees - from nectar and honeydew.
Honey bee: Insect. Order Hymenoptera; Family Apidae; Genus Apis.
Honey bound: When the comb to each side of the area of active brood is full of honey it leaves no space for brood laying or colony expansion and may cause a colony to abscond.
Honeydew: Secretion of sap-sucking ants and scale insects, rich in sucrose, that is collected by bees especially during a dearth. Common on Oak, Lime, Sycamore. Tends to make a dark and strong-tasting honey.
Honeycomb: Built by honey bees, comprising hexagonal cells almost back-to-back, having a solid vertical midrib and offset centres. (Housel positioning, by Dee Lusby)
Honey flow: Period when bees are collecting nectar from plants in plentiful amounts.
Honey stomach: An enlargement of the posterior end of the oesophagus, where the bee carries nectar from flower to hive.
House bee: General term used for worker bees in the 21 days after they emerge, and before they leave the hive. Duties include, in age order: cleaning and heating cells; nursing (feeding and grooming) larvae; taking nectar from foraging bees and ripening it; comb building. Days 19-21 = mortuary and guard duty, flying short distances from the hive.
Hopelessly queenless: A colony that has no queen, no active queen cells and no eggs or larvae younger than five days from which a queen cell can be raised. May be bad tempered and may 'roar' their discontent. May be calm/content if laying workers are present.

IAPV: Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus - uncommon in UK colonies.
Inspection: A beekeeper 'inspects' a colony to ensure all is well and/or to check progress.
Instrumental insemination: The act of depositing semen, taken from drones, into the oviducts of a queen using special equipment.
Insulation: Top insulation keeps the colony warm in winter and cooler in summer. Reduces condensation, because there is no warm internal surface on which water can condense. 
Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Usually refers to multi-disciplinary approach to dealing with varroa. Best described by FERA at Beebase in the leaflet Managing varroa
Isle of Wight Disease: Appeared on the Isle of Wight in 1906, killing whole colonies of bees and the loss of almost all managed colonies from England and Wales. Affected bees 'shivered' on the ground in front of the hive. Possibly Acarine (Acarpis Woodi), possibly CBPV. Immediate research into cause and effect was limited due to the impact of WW1.
Isolation starvation: Occurs when winter cluster becomes separated from food stores and unable to move to reach stores because of cluster dynamics, and so starves to death.

Jenter: Queen rearing system including cages designed to protect emerging queens from rivals. Developed by Karl Jenter.
Jumbo hive: Common name used for hive body that is deeper than standard e.g. Jumbo National, Jumbo Langstroth.
June Gap: Traditional time of nectar dearth in UK, occurring when Spring flowering plants/crops have finished and before the summer flowering plants start to blossom. Less noticeable to urban beekeepers.

Kashmir Bee Virus: KBV is a virus implicated in colony loss. Rare in UK.
KISS: Keep it simple, stupid! More often than not the best course of action, when confronted by a beekeeping problem, is to choose the simplest option.

Landing board: Extended lower entrance of hive, or a board propped beneath the entrance, on which incoming bees land. Best inclined 60 degrees > see research article.
Langstroth: Hive type named after Lorenzo Langstroth, who patented the first hive using bee space and removable frames. Hive body reputed to be based on champagne crate. 
Larva: Stage in life of bee between egg and pupa; “grub” stage. Plural = larvae.
Laying worker: Worker bee with developed ovaries, capable of laying unfertilised eggs that develop into drones. Occasionally, and erroneously, referred to as a 'drone layer'. Eggs may not be in the bottom of the cell - abdomen not long enough. Cells may contain multiple eggs. 'Spotty' or 'pepperpot' brood pattern. Caused when levels of queen pheromone are reduced or absent. More often than not is fatal to colony - introduced queens are killed.
Lemongrass: Essential oil often used as a swarm lure or attractant. Should not be confused with Citronella, which is an insect repellent.
Ligustica: Apis mellifera ligustica. Sub-species of Honey Bee originating in Italy.
Lugs: Term used for the ends of frame top bars, which support the frame on the frame rests within the hive boxes.

Manipulation cloth: aka Cover cloth. Used to cover top of box of bees during an inspection. Should be washed regularly.
Mating flight: Flight of a virgin queen when she is mated by one or more drones. Queens usually make several mating flights, being inseminated by 15+ drones. May take place up to 25 days after emerging, after that she is too old to mate.
Marking (queen) : Spot of paint dabbed onto queen's thorax to make her more visible during an inspection (which can help keep her safe). Breeders mark queens according to year of hatching - years ending in 1/6 = white, 2/7 = yellow, 3/8 = red, 4/9 = green, 5/0 = blue. Some breeders use numbered, coloured, discs.
MAQS®: Mite Away Quick Strips - authorised by VMD and introduced to UK in 2013, a formic acid treatment for varroa which can be used during honey production.
Mead: An alcoholic drink brewed from honey. Metheglin is mead containing spices
Medicine Record Cards are a statutory requirement in UK. See Veterinary Medicines Regulations (VMR) 2013.
Metamorphosis: When insects change from larva to adult. In bees this takes place after cells are capped.
Miller feeder: Square or rectangular rapid feeder with double entrance across the whole width of the middle of the container.
Mouse guard: Perforated metal strip, wire mesh or strip of wood with vertical nails or screws at beespace distance apart placed in hive entrance to deter small rodents.

Nadir: To place new or additional box beneath brood box
Natural beekeeping: A misnomer, often a catchpenny. There is nothing 'natural' about keeping bees in a box or container of any design.
Nectar: A sweet secretion of flowers. Bees collect nectar, store it in cells which, when full, they 'fan' to reduce water levels to below 20% to prevent fermentation, then cap each cell with a layer of wax.
Nosema apis: Disease caused by protozoan spore-forming parasite - often associated with, but not the cause of, dysentery. Thymol may be effective, otherwise shook swarm onto clean frames and into clean box.
Nosema ceranae: Disease caused by protozoan spore-forming parasite - no obvious symptoms, but may cause the colony to dwindle and fail. Believed to have arrived in Europe late 1990s and is a possible cause of colony collapse disorder. Read more at advance science.
Nucleus (Nuc): A small colony of bees resulting from a colony division. Also, a 3 to 6 frame hive or brood box.
Nurse bees: Young adult worker bees, 3 to 10 days old, that look after eggs and larvae.

Ocelli: Simple eyes, called ocelli, are found near the front and top of the head. Ocelli register intensity, wavelength, and duration of light. At dusk the ocelli estimate extent of approaching darkness, causing the bees to return to their hives. (Taken from Bee Anatomy. David M Stone)
Open Mesh Floor (OMF): Section of hive floor made of perforated metal or plastic, usually 8 or 10 holes per inch (8 or 10 count). Used to allow varroa to fall away from the colony, and periodically onto a greased board where they can be counted to check infestation levels. OMF is NOT a method of treating varroa; the board should only be in place whilst monitoring varroa drop.
Orientation flight: Short flights taken by young bees which begin flying a figure of 8 facing the hive, then gradually work upwards and outwards until they are sure of the location.
Oxalic Acid (OA): Was commonly used as a midwinter treatment for varroa.  VMR 2013 restricted use to registered treatments only, which are available via SIC and cascade system under the brand names Api-bioxal and Ecoxal. These must be purchased from a dispensing Vet.

Paenibacillus larvae larvae: Latin name of bacterium that causes American Foulbrood (AFB).
Pheromone: Scent given off by bees which influence the behaviour of others.
PMS (Parasitic Mite Syndrome): Disease found in colonies infested with Varroa mites
Polished cells: Cells that have been cleaned and prepared for the queen to lay in, this preparation may mean moving nectar or pollen to another area of the frame/hive. 
Pollen: Male reproductive cells of flowers, provide the protein part of a bee's diet.
Pollen basket: Area of bee's hind leg where pellets of pollen are carried.
Pollen patty: Mixture of sugar, water, and pollen - used as bee food.
Pollen substitute: Mixture of water, sugar, and soy flour, brewer’s yeast, etc..
PPB: Acronym for Pi** Poor Beekeeping.
Prime Swarm: First of the swarm season, comprises the 'old queen and flying bees. Often a large swarm, depending on size of original colony. May need to be housed in a deep, or brood, box.
Proboscis: Mouth parts of bee for sucking up nectar, honey, or water.
Propolis: A glue or resin collected from trees or other plants by bees; used to close holes and cover surfaces in the hive. Purported to have antiseptic properties.
Pupa: Larvae 'pupate' beneath cell cappings, this is when metamorphosis from juvenile to adult occurs.
Pupae: Plural of pupa.
Pupate / Pupation: Period of development spent beneath cell capping, when larva metamorphoses to adult.

Q-: Abbreviation for queenless - colony without an active, laying, queen.
Q+: Abbreviation for queenright - colony with an active, laying, queen.
QC: Abbreviation for queen cell.
QE: Abbreviation for queen excluder.
Queen: Sexually mature female bee. She is the parent of all bees in the colony. Emerges 16 days after egg is laid (3/5/8 = 16)
Queen cage: Small wire or plastic cage used to transport, protect or introduce queens. 
Queen cell: Cell in which queen develops - larger than drone cell, heavily textured. Lies proud of, and hangs down from, the surface of the comb.
Queen cup: Sometimes called a 'play cup' - acorn-cup shaped cell that resembles the start of a queen cell. May, or may not, be developed into an active queen cell.
Queen excluder: Wire, pressed metal or plastic perforated sheet used to restrict movement of queen within hive. Workers can pass through holes, drones and queen cannot.
Queenright: A colony of bees with an active, healthy, laying, pheromone-producing queen.
Quilt: Name sometimes given to crown board. Usually a slab of insulation placed between top of upper box and roof. 
QX: Abbreviation for Queen Excluder

Rapid feeder: Device to feed a large quantity of syrup quickly. Bees enter from below, pass up and then down a ramp to access the syrup. Ramp needs to be rough to give traction, syrup should be protected by wire or a plastic cover or bees can drown. 
Refractometer: Device used to measure water content of honey before, and after, extraction and prior to bottling. Water content must be below 20%, preferably lower than 18%, otherwise the honey will ferment. Heather honey is an exception to this rule.
Rendering (wax): Melting old combs and wax cappings to produce clean wax.
Requeen: To replace a colony's queen with a new one.
Ripen / Ripening: Term used for the process of changing nectar into honey by bees, reducing moisture levels to below 20% and cap cell with wax.
Robbing: Occurs when bees steal stores from other hives.
Roof: Upper, outer, weatherproof, surface of hive. Removable. Separated from the rest of the hive by a crown board. Insulation beneath the roof keeps the hive warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
Royal jelly: Glandular secretion of young worker bees used to feed the queen and young brood.

Sac brood: A virus disease of larvae, not usually fatal for the colony. "Chinese Slipper" larvae. No treatment / requeen if widespread.
Scout bees: Worker bees which search for pollen, nectar or a suitable swarm nesting site.
Sealed brood: Pupal stage of bee development. Metamorphosis from larva to adult occurs beneath semi-permeable cappings ~ queen=8 days; worker=12 days; drone=14 days.
SHB: Small Hive Beetle Aethina tumida - Notifiable insect, serious pest of honey bees. Not yet in UK. - In Italy/Sicily autumn 2014.
Shallow: Name sometimes given to the 'shallow' box often used as a honey super. Can be used as the 'half' of 'brood and a half' system commonly used to increase brood capacity of Standard British National hives or to imitate the Rose OSB (one size box) system.
Skep: Usually woven from straw or Norfolk Reed, a dome-shaped hive that has no movable or removable frames.
Slumgum: American term for the dark waste left behind when wax has been melted, comprised of scraps and particles of pupal casings. 
Smoker: Device used to make, and blow, smoke onto bees to calm them before and during an inspection.
Stamen: Male reproductive organ of a flower, comprises pollen-bearing anther supported in a filament.
Starvation: When a colony dies because it has run out of food. Small overwintering colonies can become isolated from stores. Less common in colonies overwintered with fondant directly above top bars.
Stigma: Female, pollen receiving, part of a flower.
Stimulative feeding: Feeding pollen and thin syrup before Spring really starts. Carried out by some beekeepers to encourage brood rearing, which will ensure colonies are large enough, early enough, to take advantage of the early oil seed rape nectar flow.
Sulphur: 'Candles' (same as greenhouse fumigant) are used by some beekeepers on extracted super frames to destroy wax moth eggs and larvae prior to winter storage. In the past some skep beekeepers destroyed colonies over sulphur pits so they could harvest honey. This no longer happens, thanks to the advent of removable frames.
Super: Term used for a box placed above the brood box (and queen excluder) for honey.
Supersedure: Natural replacement of older or failing queen - supersedure cells are often built near the centre of a frame where they are less likely to be damaged by predators.
Swarm: Natural division of colony of bees. The 'old', previous year's, queen leaves the colony along with approximately half the bees once new queen cells are capped. Later, cast, swarms are smaller and contain unmated newly emerged virgin queens and approximately half the remaining bees.
Swarm Lure: Commercially available from most beekeeping retailers, as wipes or vials. Many beekeepers use Lemongrass essential oil, or essence of dead queens, instead.
Syrup: General term used for liquid feed. 1 sugar :1 water in Spring; 2 sugar : 1 water in Autumn. Never use brown or unrefined sugar, the cellulose will give the bees dysentery. Always use refined white sugar.

Taranov Swarm control: Described in more detail here 
Tergite: One of the plates making up an insect's abdomen, colours often indicate ancestry.
Thorax: Middle (second) section of bees' body where legs and wings are attached.
Tracheal mite: (See Acarapis woodi)
Trickle Feeder: Misnomer for a contact feeder. The feed should not trickle onto the colony, it would drip through the open mesh floor and would cause robbing.
Trophallaxis: The exchange of liquid between bees - nectar and water are transferred from flying worker to house bee in this way.
Tropilaelaps clarea & T. mercedesae: Notifiable parasitic mite of honey bees. Not yet in UK.

Uncapping: Removing the capping from cells. Bees uncap to remove disseased or damaged brood, beekeepers uncap honey to extract.
Uncapping fork: Multi-tined fork used for uncapping cells.
Uncapping knife: Flat bladed, often serrated, sometimes electrically heated, knife used for uncapping sealed honey cells prior to extraction.
Unite: Combine one colony with another.
Unsealed brood: Egg and larval stages of bee development before cells are capped.

Varro: Marcus Terentius Varro (116‑27 B.C.), sometimes called Varro Reatinus. Roman author of treatise on agriculture, including beekeeping. (see later post* will add link when appropriate)
Varroa destructor: External mite that parasitises Apis cerana and Apis mellifera spp..
Vespa velutina nigrithorax: Asian hornet - increasingly common in western mainland Europe, not yet identified in UK (2015). Report sightings to NNSS
Virgin queen: Unmated queen.
VSH: Varroa Sensitive Hygiene - used as an indicator by some researchers and bee breeders that colonies are cleaning themselves of varroa or are destroying dead or infected brood.

Waggle Dance: Figure of 8 pattern of movement on the comb by which bees communicate location of a nectar source to the colony. Transmitted by vibration.
Walk-away split: (description taken from Beesource) Frames with eggs and worker bees are removed from a queenright hive and installed into an empty brood chamber or nuc. The bees should create a queen cell out of a suitable egg. Once the queen hatches, successfully mates and returns to the hive, the hive will be queenright. Another option is to remove one complete brood chamber from a hive that has newly laid eggs in it, including bees, and move to a new location for the start of a new hive.
Washboarding: (description taken from Beesource) Worker honey bees exhibit a “group” activity known as rocking or washboarding on the internal and external surfaces of the hive. This behavior is believed to be associated with general cleaning activities but virtually nothing is known as to the age of worker engaged in the behavior, under what circumstances workers washboard and the function of the behavior. Washboarding behavior appears to be age dependant with bees most likely to washboard between 15-25 days of age. Washboarding increases during the day and peaks through the afternoon. Workers may respond to rough texture and washboard more on those surfaces. The function of this behavior remains to be elucidated.
Washing soda: Used in solution to clean equipment. Is NOT the same as Caustic Soda.
Water spray: Used by some beekeepers instead of a smoker, intending to calm the bees during an inspection. Bees do not like getting wet, and have to use energy to dry themselves. Few races of Honeybees will fly when it is raining.
Wax glands: Glands on underside of bee abdomen that secrete wax plates.
Wax moth: Two species of moth (Greater and Lesser W.M.) whose larvae eat wax that has previously contained brood. Natures way of dealing with extinct colonies. Sometimes called the beekeeper's friend because when they consume the wax they also consume, and so destroy, any lingering disease trapped in the wax. 
Wax plates: Oval, shiny, pieces of wax secreted by bees from day 14 - day 17 after emerging. Finding these tiny plates shimmering on an inspection tray will indicate that the bees are making new comb.
Wild comb: General, and non-specific, term for any comb built somewhere other than on the frames.
Wired foundation: Foundation provided complete with embedded wires, for strength.
Wired frames: Frames with wires (or fishing line) to strengthen unwired wax foundation or foundationless frames.
Woodpeckers: Green woodpeckers can damage hives during winter, when the ground is too frozen for them to find ants. Once learned the knowledge is passed on within the Green Woodpecker community. Hives need to be protected with either wire mesh or plastic sheets.
Worker bee: Female bee, not sexually mature but can lay infertile eggs if queen fails. Emerges 21 days after egg is laid (3/6/12 = 21). Cells have flat cappings. Apart from overwintering workers, are the shortest lived of the castes.

** US-oriented glossaries are available at Beesource and BushBees.

Any beekeeping terms or phrases missing? Let me know, and they will be added to the list.


5 April 2013


The blog
This blog is a bit of a 'wait and see what happens next' sort of thing. I think everybody is enthusiastic at the beginning of blogging, but then things get in the way - like sunshine, gardening, not being stuck indoors because it's raining, and all sorts of family and bee-related things. Maybe somebody will find something useful here. Maybe it'll be a source of amusement because it's full of mistakes because, as a beekeeper of less than 40 years experience, I've still got a heck of a lot to learn.

The first posts of this blog comprised my, slightly updated, notes for the 'Basic Assessment'. It took ages to write it all down on my computer, and seemed a bit of a waste to leave all that effort, and all those words, lying idle in a private folder. Maybe these notes will be useful to others who are preparing to take their assessment - I hope so. I will continue to update as, and when, BBKA changes the syllabus.


The Apiary and Bees
The 'small apiary', and the house, are about twenty minutes in the car from the nearest beaches on the south coast. The weather here, according to geography lessons and statistics, should be consistently milder than further inland because the sea is warmed by the Gulf Stream. But statistics and local geography can play cruel tricks on the unwary - there is rarely a mention of the gale force breezes, pea-souper sea mists and torrential showers caused by the warm air hitting colder land, or vice versa. The local bees don't seem to mind too much because they're used to it, colonies generally build up well and store enough honey during the season for some to be gifted to family and friends.

Having started off with two established colonies bought from a 'retiring' (and emigrating) beekeeper, I built up to four and then six, which I think is probably enough. The bees were originally in cedar Jumbo Langstroths, but one of the boxes turned out to be more rot than wood and absorbed all the rain, so they were replaced. I chose to use weatherproof, warm, polystyrene Swienty Jumbos. I like them a lot, I think the bees do too.

The 'small apiary' is at home, in the garden. It's quite a large garden, surrounded by tall, thick, old, hedges, so having the hives here seemed like a good idea. The neighbours were particularly pleased by the thought of some free local honey, but, two sets of new neighbours (in one house) later, I needed to start looking for an out-apiary 'just in case' - and because having another site for bees is often essential. I was delighted when a friendly farmer offered the use of a corner of a field where I kept just one colony.

'Out-apiaries' come and go as often as land changes hands, and it seems that every couple of years there's a need to move our bees to a new site. It can be a real challenge to find somewhere suitable because, even though it also seems that many people would welcome bees into their garden or a corner of a field, the reality is that beekeepers need regular access and this land-use isn't always convenient for the landowner once their initial enthusiasm has worn off.

Maybe a more accurate name for this blog would have been 'The Wandering Apiarist'!


If you're reading this blog in the hope of finding advice that will suit you and your bees, then you're more than welcome to browse and maybe learn something new. But local conditions vary, so there has to be a disclaimer. If you try to copy something I've done and it all goes pear-shaped it isn't my fault!


All the original text, and all images on this site are covered by copyright protection. Please don't just take and use something - it's mean, and it's a bit sneaky. You're more than welcome to quote text as long as you provide a backlink. If you would like to use one or more image for educational or charitable purposes then please contact me and you will be granted a license, free of charge, provided you agree to acknowledge the photographer.


If you wish to contact me please leave a comment on this page, and I'll get back to you, or email me at:- notesfromasmallapiary @ gmail.com


* Page last edited 26/10/2016