Beekeeping Terms beginning with B

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Bee Bread

pollen chewed with honey and fed to drone and worker larvae.

Bee Inspector

the Bee Inspector can be contacted at the local Scottish Government Rural Payments Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) Area Office Email: Bee Inspectors have many duties, they monitor the sea ports and airports to ensure the health of bees being imported to the UK and monitor to ensure bee pests are not introduced; they implement movement bans when Foul broods are detected; they help to improve honeybee health by inspecting apiaries and advising on management of bees and treatement of pests. You can request a Bee Inspector to come to inspect your apiary by contacting them at the email address earlier in this entry.

Bee Space

or beeway was discovered in 1789 by Francois Huber. It is a space of between 6-10mm. It is the space that bees use as a corridor to move around the hive.  Bees leave one beespace between the surfaces of adjacent frames of stored honey and two beespaces between combs in the brood nest. Langstroth recognised the need for bee space in the design of his moveable frame hive.  Bees will fill spaces less than 6mm with propolis, and brace comb if more than 10mm. Hives are built with either bottom OR top beespace. The two are not compatible as combining them will cause bees to be squashed.

Bee Suit

a protective suit which may be a full suit, covering the body, arms and legs, or a jacket and trousers. The material is usually cotton to allow breathability. While it may not prevent stings penetrating it, it does dramatically reduces the likelihood of being stung. The suit is completed by a veil covering the head and face. Vulnerable points are wrists and ankles so gloves and boots are generally worn. Suits should be laundered regularly. Dirty suits can harbour disease. Also, washing removes the pheromones left by stings which encourage bees to sting at that point. Suits come in many different colours, traditionally white, camouflage is becoming more popular as beekeepers try to keep the location of apiaries hidden to protect from theft or damage. Most can be laundered in household washing machines. Steeping in a solution of washing soda prior to washing can help remove wax and propolis. The veils normally require to washed by hand as machine washing damages the mesh.


wax is produced by bees from 8 wax glands on their abdomens. It takes approximately the same quantity of nectar to make one pound of wax as it does to produce 7 pounds of honey. Wax is valuable to bees and beekeepers. Some bee suppliers, like Thornes, will exchange cakes of wax for foundation. Beeswax is renowned for making exceptionally good candles that do not smoke and give a good, clean light. It is also very popular for use in furniture polishes and some cosmetics. It has a multitude of other uses: waterproofing of fabrics; protection of leather e.g. saddles and other horse tack; encaustic painting; lost wax casting techniques; some dentistry techniques; chewing gum; some medical surgical procedures; protection for fruit to prevent dessication; as a coating on sweets eg jelly beans. Beeswax melts at 62 degrees C (145 F). In food labelling it has an E number E901.

Bottom Bar

the lower bars on a frame, fitted to help support the weight of the honey or brood stored in the frame. They helps to keep the sheet of foundation flat so that the bees can draw it evenly, wavy foundation leads to wavy combs which inhibit manipulation of frames within the hive and makes honey extraction difficult. Frames can come with single or double bottom bars; single bottom bars are generally used with unwired foundation, double bottoms bars are generally used with wired foundation.

Bottom Space

some hives are designed with the bee space at the top, others at the bottom, making the parts incompatible. Bottom space hive designs include the National, WBC and Commercial.

Brace Comb

bees build extra comb to fill spaces, they do not like wasted space in the hive. Hives are built with a 'bee space'  to help prevent unnecessary wild or brace comb being built. As part of an Integrated Pest Management plan to reduce the numbers of Varroa in a colony, a super frame can be placed in a brood box to encourage the bees to draw out brace comb, very often it is drawn with cells at 4 to the inch to be used for rearing drones. Removal of this comb, and the mites in the drone cells, reduces the varroa buren of the colony. However, the down side is that it also removes drones which represent a significant amount of energy of the colony, and they are needed to provide diversity in mating virgin queens, so this should not be done regularly and as only a part of an IPM plan.


braula coeca is an insect. It is a parasite of bees, about 1.4mm in length, reddish brown, resembling a miniature spider (although it has only 6 legs being an insect). Also called a bee louse. Generally they only damage cappings, which can be a problem if you plan on showing a frame. Tobacco smoke is reputed to make them let go of their hold of the bee on which they travel and when they land on the floor board they can be disposed of immediately, a blowtorch being very useful.


young brood consists of eggs and larvae until they are capped. Older brood is brood which has been capped i.e. sealed with a capping of wax mixed with pollen to allow the larva to spin its cocoon and metamorphose into an adult bee.

Brood and a Half

instead of using only one brood box the beekeeper provides the bees with a larger brood space by putting a super on top (or below) the brood box. If a queen excluder is used it is used above the brood and a half i.e. before the supers to be used for honey storage.

Brood Box

see Deep


a type of bee bred by Brother Adam (1898 - 1996) of Buckfast Abbey to be a good worker, give a good surplus of honey and be easy to handle. Generally very yellow in colour.

Butler Cage

see queen cage