Unpacking Bee Jargon: A Guide to Beekeeping Terminology

Beekeeping is a complex subject. From jargon laden bee-terminology through to a new obsession with understanding the local botanicals, raising bees is – to the outsider – an immersive, fully life-changing lifestyle. Not only do your friends or family members begin to don strange suits, but quickly they begin to speak another language. Soon they are talking about brood chambers and beeswax, nucs and Langstroth hives.

In this blog we will be unpacking common beekeeping terminology to help you keep up. If you are just getting interested in bees and beekeeping, this is the guide for you.

Common beekeeping terminology, explained:


Apiculture refers to the practice of raising honeybee colonies by a beekeeper.


An apiarist is the formal name for a beekeeper.


In a word, baby bees. These are the immature bees – the eggs, larvae, or pupae of bees, in various stages of development.

Bee space:

In a hive, the bee space refers to the space left between frames (see below), so that bees can pass easily through the hive. Too narrow and the bees patch the space closed with propolis. Too wide and bees begin to build comb. There is an ideal defined bee space of 8mm.


Beehives are man-made structures, purpose built to aid bee colonies. One hive is home to one colony, with one queen bee. Beehives are traditionally made from wood; we make ours from plastic – for a range of compelling reasons. You can buy beehives in a range of configurations, but the Langstroth hive (see below) is the standard.


Frames are at the base of modern beehive management. Essentially frames are individual inserts, traditionally made from wood, that sit in your frame box. With frames you are able to individually check up on honeycomb protection, brood and hive health. We use plastic in the case of our innovative product range, to protect against rot and mites.
Comb foundations are inserted into each frame, to guide bees in the production of honeycomb.


What we are all here for! Honey is produced by bees from nectar, collected from flowers. Collected nectar passes from bee to bee inside the hive, with each bee absorbing ater from the nectar content. This absorption process cures the nectar, turning it into honey. It is subsequently stored in comb cells, build by bees from beeswax. The honey serves as food for the bees, during winter, while excess honey can be collected by the beekeeper!

Honey flow:

Also known as nectar flow, honey flow is a term which indicates a major period of production for your bees. This coincides with when nectar sources are blooming. The honey flow typically occurs during summer, when nectar production is at its highest.


Honeycomb is another iconic feature of beehives. Honeycomb is built on frames, to contain their larvae, and stores of honey and pollen to feed the colony with.


The most common form of hives. Travel around the country-side and you’ll see the iconic boxes that define the Langstroth hive. Essentially, the Langstroth hive comprises of a number of boxes stacked on top of each other, with frames in each box for bees to build comb on. Many different configurations exist, but the most common are two box hives, with the brood and queen in the bottom box, while comb is built in the top box.

Nucleus (nuc):

A nuc is a common way to begin a hive. This refers to a small, complete colony of bees, kept in a man-made enclosure, comprised of 3-5 frames. They are designed to literally slot in to your Langstroth hive.


Propolis is a resinous substance that honeybees make by mixing saliva and beeswax with plant saps. Honeybees use propolis as a sealant, closing off open spaces.


Super refers the different boxes in the hive. A honey super collects stores of honey, while the brood box refers to where the queen raises her brood. The boxes can come in a range of depths – deep, medium and shallow. These different depths are ideal for the different requirements of a hive, deep hives are more suited to raise brood in, while medium and shallow depths are typically used for honey production.


Swarming refers to the process where a large section of the hive – typically a large number of workers bees, drones and the old queen – leave to form a new colony. Swarming bees collect together and leave, with scouting bees looking for a suitable new space for the colony.

Looking to establish a hive?

Look to Nuplas Apiarist Supplies. We supply everything a commercial or hobbyist beekeeper need to set themselves up. From plastic bee hives, to particular beekeeping supplies, Nuplas Apiarist Supplies can help. Browse our full range online today.