Beekeeping Terms beginning with W

Click one of the letters above to go to the page of all terms beginning with that letter.
Waggle Dance

bees indicate the quality, direction and the distance to sources of pollen and nectar that they have discovered by dancing for other worker bees in the darkness of the hives. By feeling the dance with their legs and antennae the other workers can then use the directions to find the source.  From sampling the nectar or pollen they can tell the quality and the plants they are looking for. The direction of the waggle phase of the dance indicates the direction relative to the position of the sun. The length of the waggle phase of the dance indicates the distance required to get to the source, the more waggles the further away the source and the more energy required to retrieve it. Bees will choose which source to go to.

Warm 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 parallel to the entrance it is described as the 'warm way'. The frame nearest the entrance will be the coolest in the box and the one the bees are least likely to draw or work on. The frames in the supers should be orientated the same way as the in the brood.

Warré Hive

Warré (pronounced WAR-ree) is a type of top bar hive develeoped by Abbé Émile Warré (1867-1951), in France. His aim was to make a bee-friendly hive that was easy to use with the minimum amount of manipulation or inspection. Simply put, it is a tower of boxes. In the spring one or two new boxes are added to the bottom of the hive. In the autumn one or two boxes are removed to harvest the honey. The bees are given top bars with only a strip of foundation to encourage them to build their own combs. By regular removal of old comb, when harvesting the honey, pathogens and pesticides that can build up in comb is removed from the hive. Inspecting or treating the bees for disease is not as simple as with moveable frame hives, but such problems were probably not envisaged when this type of hive and method of beekeeping was developed.

Washing Soda

used to disinfect tools and equipment to help prevent the spread of diseases at a concentration of 200g/litre of water. Effective in removing propolis and wax. Also used to launder beesuits. A bucket made up with solution can be used to wash hive tools and nitrile gloves between hives. Such a solution will keep for up to one month and should be labelled with the date is was made up. If it should become particularly discoloured it should be discarded sooner. It can be disposed of down household drains. Gloves should be worn when handling the solution, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Wax Glands

worker bees have 4 pairs of wax glands on the underside of their abdomen. They produce beeswax which is chewed and formed into cells on frames, or cappings for cells storing honey or propolis, or mixed with pollen to make porous cappings for brood cells.

Wax Moth

of the Galleridae family. Greater wax moth G mellonella, Lesser wax moth Achroeia grisella. They lay eggs in the combs and the caterpillars burrow into the comb consuming the wax destroying the frames.

Wax Press

or foundation press. A device with a honeycomb pattern on two plates. Molten beeswax is poured into the press and the hexagonal pattern is imprinted on the wax before it cools. The sheet of foundation wax is then removed from the press ready to be fitted into a frame for use by the bees.


a bottom space hive. Named for its designer William Broughton Carr. This is the 'traditional' shaped beehive. It has the advantage of an air insulation space between the lifts and the broods and supers, and the space can be further insulated in the winter by packing the space with straw. However, it takes longer to perform an inspection as there are twice as many pieces to move off and then back on again afterwards. The parts are generally interchangeable with National parts.

Winter Bee

a female worker laid in the autumn will have a higher fat content than a summer bee and she may live for up to 6 months. Her duties are mainly in the hive but on good days during the autumn and winter she may forage outside the hive for water and nectar when it is available. Her duties inside the colony will include maintaining the temperature of the cluster and helping to rear brood as well as keeping the nest clean by removing dead bees and detritus.

Worker Bee

female bees are worker bees (unless they are queens). They emerge 21 days after they are laid as an egg. They are the smallest of the three castes of the honeybee. They have a myriad of jobs. They keep the nest clean; they feed and rear the young; they defend the nest; they gather and store pollen, propolis and nectar; they turn the nectar into honey; they gather water and ventilate and regulate the temperature of the hive; they dance to tell other workers where to forage for pollen, propolis and nectar; they feed the drones and the queen; they groom each other. A worker bee laid during the active months may live for only 6 weeks and she may only be a forager outside the hive for the last 2 weeks of her life. Generally her wings will wear out and she will die away from the hive. A bee laid in autumn will be a 'winter bee' and may live for up to 6 months, the majority of it again inside the hive.

Worker 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)