With an insane amount to learn, a new beekeeper needs a cheat sheet for all the terms they hear thrown around. Seemingly designed to keep new beekeepers out of the loop, the beekeepers nomenclature is confusing, and often illogical. Welcome to an ancient art that often makes no sense. No one said this was going to be easy… And with that, I present you with terms you should get to know:
Beek: An abbreviation for a Beekeeper.
Newbee: An abbreviation for a new, or inexperienced beekeeper.
Langstroth hive: A type of hive typical in the United States. It is a series of boxes, stacked vertically, that can easily be taken apart for inspection without tearing comb or drastically disturbing the hive.
Box: A wooden box that houses a section of the hive in a Langstroth design.
Super: A wooden box that typically sits above the brood box and is often filled with honey (see Honey Super).
Honey Super: A super that is used for storing honey, and not brood. This is usually accomplished by using a queen excluder which prevents the queen from entering the super and laying eggs. Otherwise, if the hive is tall enough, she may have enough room to lay her eggs in the lower supers, and not need to venture into the upper supers, thus keeping these upper supers full of pure honey.
Brood Box: A wooden box that houses the queen and her young who are referred to as her brood.
Tip: While a box, honey super and brood box are all the same, they can come in different sizes. Smart beeks standardize on a size and stick with it, making their equipment interchangeable.
SBB: An abbreviation for Screened Bottom Board it sits at the bottom of the hive, effectively making a “bottom” for the box that is a hive. Traditionaly these bottoms were solid wood, but in recent years, they have often been replaced with screens. The screen, much like on your summer windows, is porous enough to keep out other insects, let mites drop through, and will let air flow through. Even in snowy climates they can be left on in the winter.
Inner Cover: The “top” of the box that is the hive. It is usually made from wood, and has an oval hole cut in the center of it. While the hole allows for moisture to escape, there is also other equipment that fits into this oval hole. Note the inner cover is not the top of the hive, but the top of the “box”. There is still a roof that goes above it.
Telescoping Cover: A simple, flat, wooden board that goes above the inner cover, and usually hangs slightly over the edge, giving the hive protection from rain and snow. If you see a flat roof on a hive, it typically has a telescoping cover. Despite its name, the cover is fixed, and has no moving parts.
Garden Cover: While it serves the same purpose as an telescoping cover in keeping the rain out, this one looks more like the roof of a simple house, and is often covered in copper which will patina over time. A garden cover is usually used for esthetic reasons, as it makes the hive look like a little house as opposed to a generic box. These garden covers are rarely used by commercial beekeepers as they are more expensive to purchase and maintain.