Understanding beekeeping terms

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Understanding beekeeping terms


Absconding occurs when all adult honey bees permanently leave their nest.

Apis mellifera

The honey bee species indigenous to Africa, Europe and the Middle East.  Widely introduced to other areas including the Americas, Asia, Australasia and the Pacific.

Appropriate hive

A hive that is technologically appropriate to the resources (for example materials, human skills, bee species) available.


Wax produced by honey bees (secreted by special glands on the underside of the abdomen) and used to build comb.

Collection centre

Place where many buckets or jerry cans of honey are brought by beekeepers in order to achieve a larger volume of honey or beeswax for onward sale to a buyer.


Honey bees are social insects.  Each honey bee can live only as part of a colony and not individually.  Each colony of honey bees contains one queen bee who is the female parent of the colony, a few hundred drone bees and thousands of worker bees.


The wax structure made of hexagonal cells in which honey bees rear young and store food.

Economy of scale

As the scale of an operation increases the cost per unit of production falls.  This is achieved because large scale operations can achieve operational efficiency and overhead costs can be spread across many units.


A wooden rectangular frame that holds a sheet of wax foundation.  A number of frames hang parallel to one another inside the hive.

Frame hive (movable frame hive)

A hive that contains movable frames.  The honey bees build their comb within these frames.  The frames then enable combs to be lifted from the hive for examination, and allow for the empty comb, to be returned to the hive.  Frames can be placed in specially designed centrifugal extractors in order to extract the honey.


Any container provided by humans for bees to nest in. 


Nectar or plant sap ingested by bees, concentrated by them and stored in combs.

Honey trading group

Group of beekeepers who decide to work together for the purpose of marketing their honey collectively.

Honey hunting

Plundering wild bee colonies for their honey.

Local style hive

Hives made using a wide range of locally available materials in a range of styles.  These hives are usually simple containers and the honey bees build their combs attached to the ceiling and wall of the hive.  For this reason the beekeeper needs to cut the combs from the hive.  Such hives are sometimes called fixed comb hives.


Seasonal movements of whole honey bee colonies, leaving no brood behind in the nest.


A sweet liquid secreted by flowers, a watery solution of various sugars.


The home of a bee colony where they live on their combs.

Table honey

Honey having a good flavour and of high quality.  Table honey is marketed in jars and sold for table use.

Transaction cost

The costs incurred in making a transaction involving the selling or buying of produce, e.g. costs of negotiating, procuring, waiting


The piece of wood under which honey bees suspend their comb in top-bar hives. 

Top-bar hive

A hive containing top-bars (as opposed to a frame hive, or a fixed comb hive).  The use of top-bars enables combs to be lifted easily from the hive for inspection, or to harvest honey.


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  • Author Bees for Development
  • Publisher Bees for Development
  • Published Date October 2016
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