Beekeeping Terms beginning with S

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a viral infection which prevents the larvae making their final moult into adult bees. The larva is said to resemble a chinese slipper. The larva in its sac turns yellow and then black and then dries into a brown scale which the house bees can easily remove.


a seam of bees is the line of bees between two frames. Some treatments for varroa are calculated by how many seams of bees there are, others advise how much of a treatment to trickle over each seam.

Section Frames

small wooden crates which are held in a frame to produce comb honey. These use unwired foundation as people don’t want to eat wire and it is impossible to extract the wire without damaging the cells and disturbing the honey. Many beekeepers avoid sections as the bees are said not to like working them. As there are usually 3 section crates per super frame, there is a lot more work for the bees to do climbing around the woodwork when they would much rather work on the surface of a drawn comb. Other beekeepers have good success with sections and it sells for a premium price. The bees are more likely to work sections well, filling up all the corners, if there is a honey flow on.


see Small Hive Beetle

Shook Swarm

moving bees into a new box with clean drawn comb or foundation.  Each frame of bees in the original hive is taken out and shaken into the new one.  All brood is left behind, only the adult bees are rehomed. This technique is used to deal with some diseases of the brood, see EFB. All the old wax is also removed from the bees by this technique, old wax often harbours disease.

Side Bar

the side bars of frames determine how deep a frame will be, short for supers, long for broods. The side bars can be straight sided or shaped. Straight sided side bars can be narrow (N1 or N2) or wide (Manley). Self spacing, shaped side bars are known as Hoffman bars (N4, N5).

Small Hive Beetle

a notifiable pest.  (all beekeeepers  have a legal obligation to report any suspicion of a notifiable disease or pest to the Bee Inspector at their local Scottish Government Rural Payments Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) Area Office Email: or email Bees Mailbox with your details).  Aethina tumida originates from Africa where it is considered a minor scavenger of the african honeybee. The european honeybee has no defenses against the SHB and a colony can be devastated by it. The beetle eats brood, honey and pollen. It destroys combs. It has caused major loss of bees and economic losses for beekeepers in America, Canada and Australia. It has also been found in Mexico and Jamaica. It is anticipated that one of the most likely ways for it to enter Britain will be with the importation of bees from an affected area. Sentinel hives around Britain near sea ports and airports are monitoring for SHB in the hope that if it is caught early it can be either eradicated or at least controlled to slow its spread. The adult beetles are 5-7mm long and 3-4.5mm wide. About a third of the size of a worker bee. They are reddish brown when they emerge but darken to black as they mature. They have distinctive club shaped antenae. The egg of the SHB is 2/3 the size of a honeybee egg. They are laid in crevices in large irregular masses. In the US and Australia, pesticides are used to try to control the beetle to slow its progress. SHB was detected in September 2014 in Southern Italy and many hives were destroyed to prevent this pest spreading further. It was a time of great anxiety for many beekeepers as this area of Italy exports queens and bees to many parts of the world including Scotland.

Smith Hive

a top space hive design, single walled. Its parts are not compatible with bottom space hive designs such as the National. The frames have shorter lugs than those used in National hives.


a device used to deliver cool smoke to calm the bees. Many beekeepers burn cardboard, old sacking or wood chips to produce a cool, non-toxic smoke which, by use of the bellows on the smoker, can be puffed into the hive prior to opening it for inspections, or during inspections to calm bees or move them off the edges of boxes to prevent squashing bees when boxes are being restacked. It can also be used to puff over the site of a sting to  cover the pheromone that calls other bees to the same site to help defend their colony.

Snelgrove Board

See swarm board

Solar Wax Extractor

uses the suns rays to concentrate heat to melt the wax from old combs, cappings and burr comb which can then be run through a strainer into a collecting tray to produce clean wax.


openings on the thorax of the bees leading to the tracheae. These openings allow air into the  body tissues and blood of the bee and carbon dioxide out. Bees can be seen to be raising and lowering their abdomens to pump air in and out of their spiracles particularly on hot days or after activity e.g. flying - a bit like panting. There are 10 pairs: 3 on the thorax, six visible on the abdomen and the final pair hidden within the sting chamber. There are no spiracles in the head.


queen bees have a smooth sting which is used only against other queens, unless the beekeeper has another queen's pheromone on him from handling another queen. Drones have no sting. Worker bees have a barbed sting which is used only in defence of their colony. Because the sting is barbed the bee can sting only once as it cannot be withdrawn from the attacker. The barb allows it to stay firmly in place while the muscles around the venom sac pump the venom into the attacker. After the bee stings an attacker she will attempt to fly away which rips the sting out of her abdomen, along with other abdominal contents, causing her to die of dehydration. Please see the section on stings in the website for advice on dealing with stings. The best prevention against stings is to wear appropriate clothing when working with your bees and try not to open them on days when the weather is likely to irritate them i.e. cold, thunder, rain.


bees store pollen and honey around the brood nest to make it easy for workers to access food for the larvae. They store excess honey in the supers to support the colony through times when they cannot get out to forage, e.g. rainy weather, cold spells, windy days and the through the winter.


a honey box, not as deep as a brood box and therefore lighter and easier to lift. It will require shorter super frames. Generally put above (supra) the brood box in a colony. Sometimes, if a beekeeper wishes to give a queen more laying space, he will give her a brood and a half for the brood, i.e. a brood and a super. This is not universally encouraged as working with deep and shallow frames limits how much you can move things around.


the queen in the hive may appear to be viable but if the bees see a weakness in their queen they may opt to rear a replacement for her without swarming. Supersedure cells are generally on the face of the comb.  Usually occuring at the beginning or end of the bee season with only a few queen cells being produced.


swarming is the method that bees use to make more bees. The adult queen leaves with the older workers to form a new colony, leaving the eggs, brood and young bees to raise a new queen on the old site. Thus 2 colonies now exist instead of only one. A swarm of bees can be an alarming thing for the uninitiated to observe, thousands of bees filling the air and milling around. A swarm is not dangerous unless provoked. Ideally the beekeeper tries to prevent his bees from swarming as when the adult bees leave he is left with a hive full of young bees who have no capacity to collect honey to make a surplus he can then harvest. If a swarm does escape, beekeepers are often called upon by the public to take it away. Please have a look online or in beebooks for advice regarding catching swarms, or discuss with your local association beekeepers who are bound to have lots of useful helpful advice on how to gather a swarm (as well as tales of the ones that got away!).

Swarm Board

an adapted crown board or specially made board, generally with openings top and bottom on at least two sides to manipulate the bees to aid in swarm control. Some designs are named for their designers, e.g. Snelgrove