Now that you’ve had a chance to read Part 1 Terminology you should know about Beekeeping we’re going to get into some more specifics. Let’s talk about honey, queen breeding, bee behavior, diseases and pests, and companies that sell equipment related to beekeeping.
Beekeeping Terminology Related to Honey
- Uncapping Knife, Hot Knife, Uncapping scratcher-These tools all perform the same function. The honey, when it’s ready, gets capped with a layer of wax. The beekeeper must open the cells in which the honey is stored by opening the tops, or “uncapping” the honey
- The difference between an uncapping knife and a hot knife is the function in which it operates. A hot knife is usually run by electricity and gets hot with a thermostat. An uncapping knife has to be manually warmed up in order to get the caps off.
- In my opinion, a hot knife is more efficient at removing the caps, there is less waste, and the wax you remove is cleaner and easier to work with.
- Uncapping tub-this is the container that is used to catch the capping when they are cut off of the frames of capped honey
- Honey extractor or “Extractor”-this is used as a centrifuge where it spins in a circle to pull honey out of the cells of the honey frames and collects in the bottom to be emptied out through a honey gate
- Honey gate-this piece of equipment opens and closes to let honey out or keep it in the vessel where the honey is. Is usually on the bottom of a honey extractor or on buckets
- Strainer-raw honey goes through a series of strainers to catch pieces of wax, bee parts, some larger particles of pollen, and other debris to obtain a clean, filtered product
- Refractometer-this tool is used to evaluate the moisture content of your honey. The moisture content is evaluated in terms of brix. Ideal moisture content of honey is 19-21%. If the moisture content is too high moisture can be pulled off by using a dehumidifier and fans.
- Bottling Tank-this is an optional piece of equipment. However, I have found this piece of equipment to be quite useful. Especially while working with children. After the honey has been extracted, and has been strained, honey is poured into the top of the bottling tank to be gently warmed for quick and clean bottling of honey. The honey is gently warmed through the use of a jacketed kettle type system. The bottling tank is a double walled piece of equipment. The honey goes in the inner container. Then there’s a space where you fill it with more water than your level of honey. It’s plugged into electricity to warm it by the temperature that you set it at (usually between 110-140 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Comb honey-The is a honey and wax product in which the beekeeper cuts the entire section of honeycomb that the bees have drawn out away from a frame, filled and capped with honey
- Creamed honey-Creamed honey has undergone a controlled crystallization process to get it to the consistency of liquidy peanut butter. Almost like whipped butter. (I haven’t ever gotten to make creamed honey, but I know it’s delicious)
- Honey sticks/stix-a plastic straw filled with honey, and heated and pinched off on the end to close it. The best way to open it is by turning it so the seal is up and down between your teeth, and “popping” it open. No scissors required
- Crystallized honey-all raw honey will become crystallized at some point. It’s the process in which liquid honey becomes hard particles of sugar. Crystallized honey can be re-liquified through gentle warming. You can put the bottle or jar of honey in a warm water bath, put it in your warm car for a few hours, or put it in a sunny windowsill.
Beekeeping Terminology Related to Breeding
- Queen rearing (supplies)- this is the phrase that means that the beekeeper is breeding for specific traits and they are intervening in the process to obtain the traits they desire
- Grafting-part of the queen rearing process in which one to two day old larva are taken out of the original cells. You choose where you want larva from based on the desirable traits you want to pass on-gentleness, honey production, overwintering, good brood pattern, etc.
- Grafting tool (Chinese, German, etc. Grafting Tool)- is the tool that helps you scoop these tiny larva out of the cells and transfer then into a queen cup
- Queen cup-the man-made cells that you place grafted larva into
- Queen Rearing Frame-This is a frame with notches that hold two cell bars
- Cell bars hold the push in cell cups
- The cell cups hold the larva that is grafted out of your parent hive
- Cell bars hold the push in cell cups
- Cell bar-the man-made bar that the queen cups fit into. Usually you use two bars with 15 cups per row that fit into the queen rearing frame.
- Cell protector-this is an optional piece of equipment. However, I have found they are quite necessary to fit over top of the queen cells that the bees have built around the queen larva. It is an added layer of protection to ensure you don’t damage the queen inside
- Queen cage- the little, usually plastic, cage that a fully formed, hatched and developed queen goes into for transportation/familiarity in the hive.
- Mating flight-queens must go on a mating flight in order to get the insemination she needs to produce fertile eggs. Drones chase after the queen, mate with her in flight. (Surprise fact-the drones die after mating)
- Mating box-this box allows two to three frames of bees (nuc) to be put into separate sections with new queens. Then these nucs can be made into a new hive
*Did you know when you see a queen with a color on it, this is a mark that a beekeeper puts on their queens? That’s right! The colors determine what year the queens were born. See the table below that tells you what the colors mean!
|0 or 5||Blue|
|1 or 6||White|
|2 or 7||Yellow|
|3 or 8||Red|
|4 or 9||Green|
Beekeeping Terminology Related to Bee Behavior
- Jobs of the bees-jobs of the bees are based on their age
- Nurse bee-these bees feed royal jelly to the baby larva
- Guard bees- these bees protect the hive. They are often the first bees out of the hive when their hive gets opened, or when an intruder is coming by the hive
- Forager bee- these bees are the ones that go out and about to collect nectar, pollen, tree sap and resin
- Propolis- the sticky substance in the hive that is full of antibiotic/antimicrobial properties. Bees will bring in tree sap and resin to create this substance in their mouths. They fill it in the cracks of the hive, or spaces they want filled.
- Robbing-When bees invade another hive and take honey from a less robust hive
- Swarm/swarming-a large group of bees will leave with a new queen that they’ve created when they run out of space in their current hive. This is often characterized by bees flying in the air in a cloud, then they find a nearby place to land until they find a place for their new home. Swarms can be caught by beekeepers by shaking them into a box or using a swarm trap to lure them into a man-made box (similar to a hive). Swarms will often find a place to next in trees about 10-12 feet up in the air
Beekeeping Terminology Related to Disease and Pests
- Mite (Varroa mite)-This mite is an external parasite that attacks both adult bees and honey bee larva. Think of this similar to a tick on a person. The mites transfer diseases between the bees, weaken their immune system, and overall are just a bad parasite.
- Beetle (Small Hive Beetle)-This tiny little bug is a terrible pest in the larva stage, especially. It burrows through wax comb, eats brood, and destroys honey and pollen stores.
- Nosema-This fungal spore infection of the bees is often detected by the smeary brown poop streaks that are left on a hive. Bees will try to clean this up, and then accidentally ingest the fungal spores. This makes it so the bees can not uptake nutrients, making them sick, and leading to death.
- Foulbrood-a bacterial infection in honeybees. Can be present as two types. One curable, one note.
- American-Not curable form of foulbrood that affects the pupal stage of brood. Killing them, weakening the hive, and eventually taking out the whole hive altogether. The only way to protect other hives against it, is through the use of fire, and disposing of the infected hive, and all of its contents.
- European-bacteria that takes over the gut, that competes for the nutrients from larval food and ultimately leading to starvation.
Companies that sell things Related to Beekeeping
- Mann Lake
- The owners of HillCo had their kid(s) make a 3D printed hive, and it is the coolest piece of equipment I own. I am able to take this 3D printed hive to classrooms, to the farmers’ market, and just pack it in my bag. It hardly takes up any room at all, and it is a helpful, useful tool when explaining hive components.
There are always new things to learn in beekeeping. I hope this gives you a head start into learning a bit more about bees and beekeeping. What things are you still wondering about related to beekeeping? Comment below what you are still wondering about. Check out Part 1 for some more information about introduction information to beekeeping. Subscribe and follow along. Try new things, I’m cheering you on!