Beekeeping Terms beginning with C

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a solid sugar feed used to feed bees in the winter months when syrup cannot be given. A simple recipe for candy is to bring tot the boil 6lb of sugar, one pint of water and a teaspoon of cream of tartar, stir constantly until the sugar is fully dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool to around 50 degrees C and stir until it thickens whereupon it should be poured into shallow moulds. Place directly on top of the frames, in contact with the cluster.

Capped Brood

larvae which are old enough to be capped over to allow them to  begin pupating and metamorphosing into adult bees. The capping is a mixture of wax and pollen which allows air to permeate otherwise the larvae would suffocate. The state of the cappings can indicate health or disease - see American Foul Brood..


bees use the wax they make, in their wax glands on their abdomens in thin sheet like flakes, to make frames of wax for the queen to lay in and to store honey, nectar and pollen. They make particularly fine white wax to seal the cells containing honey. They mix pollen with wax to make air permeable cappings for cells containing brood.


metal edgings used on supers to space the frames. They are available with a variety of different slot numbers. The fewer the slots the deeper your frames need to be drawn to prevent wild or brace comb from being produced. Useful when transporting hives as they prevent the frames from swinging and crushing bees.


following a primary swarm, one or more secondary swarms, or casts, may occur. Casts generally contain fewer bees than the primary swarm. The queen within the cast may be a virgin. The smaller cast, once caught, can be added to another colony to increase its size.


each hexagonal space on a frame of beeswax is called a cell. Cells are used to store pollen, nectar, honey and larvae.

Chalk Brood

a fungal infection of the brood. The brood die in the cell and look like mummies. The mummies are white until the fungal spores are produced when they can look black. Evidence of this disease can be seen in the detritus on the floor board. Some colonies seem more prone to this than others. Requeening can help. It is quite common in Scotland.

Chilled Brood

to develop properly, brood needs to be kept at an optimum temperature of between 32 and 35 degrees. If the queen is a prolific layer she may produce too many larvae for the existing adult bees to cover and so keep warm. Keeping a frame of larvae out of the hive too long during an inspection on a colder or a windier day may also result in chilled brood. Chilled brood is dead brood and may appear yellow-ish/grey before turning black. The larvae will dessicate and adult bees can easily remove the husks.

Clearer board

also known as an 'escape', a board used to remove bees from supers so the supers can be easily removed for extraction. There are numerous types of clearer board - Canadian, Rhomboid, Porter. The bees have an 'escape' route down into the brood box but are unable to find their way back up to the super. Some work faster than others, some use a maze, some use springs.


in cold weather, especially in the winter, the bees in the hive will form a cluster over 2 or more frames. It is effectively a ball of bees. This allows the colony to protect the queen and any brood she has laid, which will be in the centre of the cluster, where it is warmer. Bees on the outside of the cluster will move in to get heat and bees from the warmer centre will move out to take their turn on the outside. A cluster will generally move upwards in colder weather, consuming stores stored above them on the way. A hive of bees can starve in the winter even if there is plenty of honey in the hive as a cluster will generally not move sideways. Winter feed should be placed directly on the top bars of the frames over the cluster.

Cold Way

describes the orientation of the frames in the brood box. The outside dimensions of a national hive are square therefore the brood box can be sat on top of the floor in two directions. With the frames running perpendicular, i.e. at 90 degrees, to the entrance it is described as the 'cold way'. The edges of the frames nearest the entrance will be the coolest and the bees may be more reluctant to draw or work these areas, however air is said to circulate more effectively with this set up, which may be an advantage in warmer weather. The frames in the supers should be orientated the same way as the in the brood. With the frames running parallel to the entrance it is decribed as the 'warm way', the frontmost frame may not be fully utilised by the bees as it will be cooler than subsequent frames being nearer the draught from the entrance.

Commerical Hive

a bottom space hive. Single walled. The main benefit is the size of the deeps or brood boxes, the frames for which are 16"x10" allowing a larger brood space. It is compatible with National equipment. There is an eke called a Hamilton converter which will convert a national brood box into a 10 frame commercial.

Contact Feeder

a plastic tub or a glass jar or a tin with a lid, all can be used. Small holes are punched in one end and when the container is placed holes down, a vacuum inside the container prevents the liquid running out. The bees access the syrup through the holes. A contact feeder can be used on top of a crown board, e.g. during the summer months, it can also be used in direct contact with the cluster in winter by placing it directly on the top bars above the cluster, but the container would have to be insulated.


the pollen baskets on the back legs of a honey bee. Used by forager bees to collect pollen and propolis to bring back to house bees at the hive.

Crown Board

generally a wooden board (may be plastic in polystyrene hives) placed over the top of the topmost box to retain heat. Normally has a hole (or two) which can be used to support feeders placed on top of the colony or for bee escapes when clearing a super of bees to harvest the honey.