Sunday, June 28, 2009



It's come to my attention that I have done my usual thing and gone straight to technical and specific jargon that is not easily understood.

My quick bee wiki guide!

Beek - a bee keeper. (used by a member of my guild, not sure how common this is, makes me laugh!)

Hive - the physical home for the bees. The ones seen on farms and my front yard is a Langstroth Hive. The old fashioned hive (still pictured on many honey bottles) is a Skep.

The hive is made up of Supers. These look like boxes and come in three basic sizes - deep or brood (where the queen lays eggs and the colony lives); medium; and shallow or honey (where the bees store excess honey that humans can partake in). These supers sit on a bottom board, which may or may not be screened. The screen is a passive way of fighiting Varroa mites. (the mites fall down and they can't get up.) The supers have an inner cover and a telescoping cover.

There's optional equipment as well - a queen excluder may be used between the brood and honey supers. It is placed on top of the brood supers to preven the queen from using the honey supers for egg laying. May be plastic, metal, or wood and metal.

Bees bring back a few things to the hive: water (hydration), pollen (protein), nectar (sugar), and propolis (bee glue). They make royal jelly (food for the larva and what makes a worker a queen), beeswax (foundation), and honey (yum!)! In the process of collecting they also pollinate a plenty.

When we go out to check on the hive, we use the smoker. The smoke doesn't calm the bees, per say. It makes them think their hive is on fire, and thus they'd better eat lots of honey in preparation for their long flight to find a new home. Too much smoke can alter the flavor of the honey, and I'm told no amount of smoke will calm an angry hive. The smoke also masks any danger! or alert! pheremones the guard bees may send through the hive. (Bees communicate with a variety of pheremones and the infamous waggle dance.)

We use hive tools to pry the hive open. The bees glue everything down with propylis, also called bee glue. Hive tools come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but apparently all share the ability to get lost. They are also handy for scraping things off the hive (bees that may have been crushed in the past, burr comb, etc), scraping out stingers, and humanely killing a worker that is trying to sting. (This was the case when worker was stinging my glove on the seam recently. We used a hive tool to dispatch her quickly, it's bad enough she died defending her hive, she doesn't need to suffer.)

We wear our protective clothing anytime we are disturbing the hive. For us, this is a jacket with veil, gloves, and pants. Pants are strapped down and / or tucked into socks or shoes. This is to prevent any bees that may be on the ground from crawling up onto the legs. If I am just taking a peek at the hive or working near by, I usually don't wear anything different than what I'm wearing that day.

Ok, hope that helps! :)

Honeybee Encyclopedia
Bee Facts and Information

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