Beekeeping Terms beginning with D

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Dadant Hive

a top space hive design, single walled. A very large hive.Frames are 175/8” x 111/4” (448mm x 286mm).


a brood box, which requires deep frames, if shallow or super frames are used the bees will draw wild comb on the bottoms bars making the frames harder to handle, but this can be used as a technique to help manage Varroa.


a method of swarm control. Put a new brood box with some foundation and some drawn comb on the original floor site leaving room for the queen on her frame. Move the queen on her frame into the middle of this box. Put a queen excluder on top of the brood box. Put two supers of stores above the queen excluder. Put the old brood box with all the young brood, i.e. uncapped larvae and eggs, above the supers. The nurse bees will migrate to the top of the hive and the older flying bees will be in the bottom of the box.

Drawn Foundation

bees given foundation in a frame will draw out the wax into cells. They make their own wax and add this to the foundation to make the cells deep enough for their use. Super frames held by castellations can be spaced to encourage the bees to draw the cells deeper, which allows more honey to be stored per cell. See bee space.


a male bee. Drones are formed from unfertilised eggs, generally laid by a queen bee, but laying workers can lay eggs which are unfertilised and therefore mature into drones. The drone takes 24 days from being laid as an egg to hatching out. His purpose is to fertilise a virgin queen. He is mature enough to fertilise a queen at around 13 days after hatching. He can only mate once and then he dies as part of his abdominal contents are dragged out after mating. If a drone does not mate with a queen he may live for up to 50 days. Drones cannot feed themselves and rely on workers to feed them. The are ejected from the hive in autumn as the workers conserve food for the rest of the colony to survive. Drones will gather at Drone Congregation sites in the summer on good days waiting for queens to come looking for them. Drones have no sting. Drone sacrificing is used as a method of controlling varroa. A super frame is placed in a brood box, the bees draw out 'wild'/brace comb under the frame with 4 to the inch cells in which the queen will lay unfertilised eggs, varroa prefer drone brood as it takes longer to mature giving the young mites more time to mature before the drones hatch. The wild comb is cut and the varroa (and the larvae) are killed by freezing or burning the comb.

Drone Cappings

drones are slightly larger than workers and they are raised in cells that the bees make at 4 to the inch. The cell cappings are domed, giving the frame a lumpy look, this is because the larger drone larva needs more space to pupate.

Drone Comb

bees build their hexagonal cells in two different sizes, 4 to the inch for drones, 5 to the inch for workers. (also 5 to the inch for storing nectar, honey and pollen)

Drone laying Queen

if a queen has insufficient sperm she is unable to lay fertilised eggs therefore any eggs she lays will be unfertilised and will be drones when they mature. Queens that do not mate, or older queens which are failing, become drone laying queens and need to be replaced if the colony is to survive.

Dummy Board

a plastic or wooden board the same dimensions as a standard frame, but solid. It is usually sited to one edge of the colony allowing the board to be removed during inspections leaving more space to manipulate the bees on the frames without rolling or squashing the bees. Also used if the brood box is not used to capacity, the dummy board becomes the end wall for the colony. It also helps to retain heat by saving the bees having to heat the entire box space.


bee diarrhoea - may be a result of bees being infected with Nosema. Bees defecate inside the hive leaving brown streaks on the tops of frames. These signs may also be due to the bees being unable to leave the hive to defecate, perhaps during a prolonged cold spell. The National Bee Unit will test samples of bees for you to see if Nosema is present -