Beekeeping Terms beginning with H

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Bee blood. A colourless fluid, it transports energy around the bee's body from the gut to the muscles and brain. Varroa mites feed on the haemolymph.

Hamilton Convertor

An eke used to convert a national brood to take 10 commercial sized brood frames

Heavy Syrup

sugar syrup is fed to bees for many reasons: to prevent starvation; to stimulate laying. Syrup is always made from refined white sugar, never unrefined or brown sugar, which the bees cannot use. Heavy syrup is more concentrated than light syrup. Add boiling water to the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. A little heat may be required when making heavy syrup. Use the ratio of sugar:water 1kg:0.5L (1kilo to 1 pint). It is given to the bees using a feeder.


lifting the corners of a hive to estimate if there is sufficient weight of food stores to last the bees through the winter. Hefting does not indicate where the stores are in relation to the cluster, so an inspection may be necessary to ensure the bees are in contact with their stores, otherwise feeding may be needed. It is recommeded you heft at least 2 corners of a hive in case all the stores are all to one side.

Hive Tool

a metal tool, usually of stainless steel, shaped in various ways, used by the beekeeper to lever up frames, scrape propolis or wax from surfaces, open cells, squash bees and a myriad of other tasks. It should be held in the hand at all times when carrying out an inspection. They are renowned for getting lost when you put them down, even for an instant, no matter what colour they are!

Hoffman Frames

these frames have shaped side bars which are broader at the top than at the bottom which allow frames to be self-spacing negating the need for spacers or castellations. Considered to be of more use in the brood box than in supers as the shape of the side bars makes uncapping more awkward when harvesting honey.


honey is made from nectar, a sucrose rich liquid which bees gather from flowers. The bees use the enzymes in their saliva, along with evaporation, to reduce the water content to produce a super saturated sugar solution containing  a variable proportion of inverted sugars (glucose and fructose) with less than 17% water which, when capped with wax capping to prevent the moisture in the air reaching it, will not ferment. The bees can then use this as a food store to survive the winter months. Bees need to dilute the honey to use it, it is their source of carbohydrate.

Honey Bee

an insect which makes nectar into honey to store to survive lean periods. Many bees make honey but only the honeybee makes a surplus.

Honey Flow

when there is a surge in the production of nectar available to bees, e.g. when certain trees come into flower or when heather is in flower.

Honey Stomach

to bring back nectar to the hive a forager bee has to swallow the nectar. She will hold the nectar in her stomach by closing her proventriculus thus preventing it moving into her gut. When she comes back to the colony she regugitates the nectar to pass it to a house bee. The honeybee honey stomach may contain as much as 75 milligrams (0.003 ounce) of nectar, which can be about one-third the insect’s total weight.

House Bee

a worker bee becomes a house bee about 10 days after hatching. She will take nectar and pollen from foraging bees as they return to the hive and place them in appropriate cells, round the tops of brood frames, or if there is a honey flow she will put nectar into cells in the supers. Passing nectar from bee to bee mixes it with bee saliva which contains enzymes that invert the sucrose in nectar into glucose and fructose, this also has the effect of removing some of the water content of the nectar. House bees also fan the nectar in the cells to help reduce the water content further (down to 17%) by evaporation before capping the cells with wax to prevent the honey from absorbing water from the air which would allow it to ferment making it useless to the bees. House bees become sentries or guard bees defending the entrance to the hive before becoming foragers.

Hypopharangeal Glands

worker bees have two glands inside their heads which produce royal jelly, brood food, a highly nutritious protein rich substance. These glands mature a short time after a worker bee hatches and one of her tasks becomes feeding the larvae. Initially she feeds older larvae by mixing this royal jelly with pollen. As she matures, the royal jelly becomes more nutritious and she progresses to feeding younger larvae then the queen.The presence of larvae stimulates this maturation of the glands. A nurse bee requires to eat large quantities of pollen to produce royal jelly.