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. 

Clothing
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.

2012
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

A
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

B
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)

C
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.

D
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.

E
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.

F
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.

G
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

H
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.

I
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.

J
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.

K
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.

L
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.

M
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.

N
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.

O
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.

P
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
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

R
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.

S
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.

T
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.

U
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.

V
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.

W
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.

N.B.
** 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.

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5 April 2013

Introduction.

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.

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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 keep just one colony.

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Disclaimer
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!

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Copyright
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.

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Contact
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

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* Page last edited 26/01/2015

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