Beekeeping Glossary of Terms

In our last article, we introduced Beekeeping as an activity thousands enjoy.  In Part Two, we will go over some key terms that will help you in understanding what it takes to get started in this fascinating outdoor activity, and explain the equipment that is needed.  The seven main supplies (in addition to bees) you will need to get started are the frame, hive body or brood chamber, super, smoker, hive tool, bee veil, and gloves.

Frame – a piece of equipment made of either wood or plastic designed to hold the honeycomb that the honeybees make.  Each movable frame can be removed from the hive and examined without injuring the honeybees.

Hive body – a wooden box which encloses the frames and is usually used as a brood chamber.  These large boxes containing ten frames are the heart of the Honeybee colony.

Super – Additional boxes usually smaller than hive bodies that have movable frames are set on top of the brood chamber and provide space for the Honeybees to store surplus honey which the beekeeper will harvest.

Smoker – a metal device with air pumping bellows attached that slowly burns to produce smoke (not flames). This smoke causes a temporary confusion or disorganization within the colony and is used to subdue bees, allowing the beekeeper to move around calmly and comfortable to inspect the interior of the colonies.

Hive tool – a metal device used to open hives, pry frames apart, and scrape wax and miscellaneous product collected from honeybees.  Because of the sticky nature of these substances, the hive tool is used to remove frames, supers and other items from the hives.

Bee veil – a cloth or form of hat to protect the beekeeper’s head and neck from stings.  It is usually made of wire mesh to help the veil stand away from the face.

Other terms you will hear and read about……

Apiary – colonies, hives, and other equipment assembled in one location for beekeeping operations; also known as a bee yard.

Apiculture – the science and art of raising honey bees.

Bee blower – an 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 collected pollen and nectar or honey, 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 or buildings by allowing bees to pass one way but preventing them from coming back.

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

Bee space – 1/4 to 3/8-inch space between combs and hive parts in which bees build no comb or deposit only a small amount of propolis. Bee spaces are used as corridors to move within the hive.

Beeswax – a complex mixture of organic compounds secreted by four pairs of special glands on the worker bee’s abdomen and used for building comb. Its melting point is from 143.6 to 147.2 degrees F.

Boardman feeder – a device for feeding bees that consists of an inverted jar with an attachment allowing access to the hive entrance.

Bottom board – the floor of a beehive that all the other components build upon.

Cell – the hexagonal compartment of comb built by honeybees.

Cluster – a large group of bees hanging together, one upon another.

Colony – all the worker bees, drones, queen, and developing brood living together in one hive or other dwelling.

Comb – a mass of six-sided cells made by honey bees in which brood is reared and honey and pollen are stored; composed of two layers united at their bases.

Comb foundation – a commercially made structure consisting of thin sheets of beeswax with the cell bases of worker cells embossed on both sides in the same manner as they are produced naturally by honey bees.

Crimp-wired foundation – comb foundation which crimp wire is embedded vertically during the manufacturing of the foundation. The wire increases the strength of the foundation.

Division board feeder – a wooden or plastic compartment which is hung in a hive like a frame and contains feed for bees.

Double screen – a wooden frame with two layers of wire screen 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 the upper colony.

Drawn combs – cells which have been built out by honey bees from foundation in a frame.

Fume board – a rectangular cover the size of a super which has an absorbent material on the underside. A chemical is placed on the material to drive the bees out of supers for honey removal.

Grafting tool – a needle or probe used designed for transferring larvae from worker cells to a queen cells.

Hive – the structure used by bees for a home.

Hive stand – a structure that supports the hive.

Honey house – building used for extracting honey and storing equipment.

Inner cover – a lightweight cover used under a standard telescoping cover on a beehive.

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

Pollen basket – a flattened depression surrounded by curved hairs, located on the outer surface of a bee’s hind legs and adapted for carrying pollen to the hive.

Pollen trap – a device for removing pollen loads from the pollen baskets of incoming bees.

Queen cage – a small cage in which a queen and three to five worker bees are confined for shipping and introduction into a colony.

Queen cell – a special elongated cell in which the queen is reared. It is above an inch or more long and hangs down from the comb in a vertical position.

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.


  1. Great glossary! Bees are in serious trouble right now, so the more people learn about beekeeping, and the more who actually start keeping bees themselves, the better their chance of survival.

  2. A. Earl Cheal says:

    I agree with BestBeekeeping. I would add that beekeeping can be an excellent for a teenager to get involved with which can help earn some money and could even lead to a profession.

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