Novice beekeepers have all sorts of questions regarding how to raise honey bees. Whether they are questions about the bees, the equipment or backyard beekeeping methods they all can be answered. Urban beekeeping is getting more and more popular and the great news for newbies is that domestic honey bee cultivation has been going on for thousands of years. For hundreds of years experts have been recording data on the lives of honey bees. Today there is no reason a person should not be able to learn how to raise honey bees successfully in their own back yard. One of the easiest things to do is become familiar with common terminology. Learn some backyard beekeeping lingo:
Brood box: The primary hive box that is a man-made box containing removable frames where the queen lays her eggs and worker bees tend the queen and larvae feeding them from the honey and pollen stored in comb cells surrounding the brood cell. It is usually the bottom box of a hive stack.
Super: A box like the brood box containing removable frames where worker bees construct comb cells for the storage of surplus honey. They come in an assortment of sizes and stack atop the brood box.
Smoker: A device that converts fuel, usually non-toxic combustible pellets, into smoke. The smoke calms the bees and disrupts their communication so that a beekeeper can more easily perform inspections, maintenance and honey collection of the hive.
Hive tool: A pry bar used to lever apart frames from the box. Bees produce propolis, a sticky substance used as a construction adhesive when they build comb cells. Propolis often causes frames to stick to the inside of the hive boxes making a pry bar tool very useful and handy.
Bee brush: A soft-bristle brush or large feather used to redirect bees. Some beekeepers prefer to use the brush or feather method and forego using smoke completely.
Queen catcher: Many designs resemble a hair clip. They are used to gently pick up the queen without causing harm.
Queen muff: A container to safely hold the queen temporarily.
Top bar frame: Can also be called a groove top frame or wedge top frame. A groove top frame has a groove where your wax foundation is inserted. Wedge top frames look almost the same but have a bit of wood alongside the groove that is broken off when installing the wax foundation. The wedge is there to support the foundation. Support can also be provided with wire or pins. Some wired foundations have a hook that can be placed around the wedge, like putting a coat hanger on a clothes rod.
Foundation: This is the material held by hive frames where bees build their honeycomb, or cells. Typically it is wax based, layered, and reinforced with embedded wire.
Observation hive: A bee colony established in a man-made hive containing one glass wall where the bees’ behavior can be observed and studied.
Nucleus hive: A small honey bee colony that has been created from splitting a larger colony.
Honey extractor: A device to extract honey from honey combs without destroying the comb. It uses centrifugal force to fling the honey out of the cell.
Warre bee hive: A hive design based on the work of French priest Abbe Emile Warre who raised honey bees and authored books on the subject during the late ninetheenth century and early twentieth century. It features a vertical top bar rather than multiple frames.
Langstroth bee hive: A patented design that is the standard for American beekeepers. It features removable frames for honeycomb construction that are easily removable. Named after apiarist Lorenzo Langstroth who was an avid apiarist and clergyman, raising bees during nineteenth America.
Pollen: A fine powder of microscopic grains discharged from male flower parts that fertilizes female counterparts of a plant. As bees visit flowering plants to feed on nectar they pick up pollen and carry it from plant to plant as well as return it to the hive where it is used as a protein source.
Nectar: A sugar based liquid produced by plants and harvested by bees for use in the production of honey.
Acquiring a sufficient vocabulary can help you navigate the many resources available that discuss methods of how to raise bees. Backyard beekeeping experts will, of course, have a much more vast vocabulary than this small list of words. However, once you gain some time under your belt with urban beekeeping, that experience will surely expand your knowledge base exponentially.