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Beenglish Dictionary
Beenglish Dictionary
By: Ann Harman

Learn the jargon of beekeeping.

April 01, 2012


Our various pastime pursuits have a vocabulary all their own. It is important to have a good understanding of the terms used so that one does not appear to be a complete neophyte. The game of golf, for example seems to involve birds. You hear golfers commenting about 'birdies' (little finches and sparrows perhaps?) and 'eagles' (bald or golden?). Since the game is played outdoors such terms could be expected. Tennis players, on the other hand, seem obsessed with Love. At least you hear them shouting the word whenever someone hits a ball out of bounds. Football followers need to watch carefully when the announcer says 'First Down' because it is really difficult to tell who fell down first.

Beekeeping, of course, has its own jargon. This is so beekeepers can talk to each other about their successes and problems in an intelligent way. Therefore, here follow definitions and explanations of terms that beekeepers may find helpful.

Top Bar. The Top Bar (opposite of topless bars) is the nicest bar in town. The bartender is knowledgeable, not easily stumped with requests by those from out of town. The wine cellar is extensive. The Top Bar is a nice place to take Granny for her birthday. There she can celebrate with her favorite champagne cocktail.

Side Bar. This bar is around the corner from Top Bar and is not quite so upscale. However it is a nice bar favored by the young professionals. The selection of beers is quite large and includes many from Germany, Japan, and other countries. Honey beers are also a favorite here.

Bottom Bar. This bar is quite some distance from both the Top Bar and the Side Bar. Its clientele can be a bit rowdy on weekends particularly if a big football game is on TV there. This bar is not one you would take Granny to.

Excluder. This is the term used for the bouncer at the Top Bar. The management felt it is a more distinguished word than 'bouncer.' Since there is little need for the excluder in the Top Bar, you may well see him welcoming patrons or serving guests.

Drone Congregation Area. Every Friday night the regulars have their poker game at a beekeeper’s home. The regulars take turns hosting the game. The poker table is nicknamed the Drone Congregation Area. In lieu of poker chips the players use the different-colored plastic cell cups. The poker games have been going for many years even though the regulars have changed from time to time.

Frame. You can find a large selection of frames for your pictures at the frame shop in town. There you will find ready-made ones in a variety of sizes including ones for certificates. If you wish custom framing the owners will be happy to help. The people at the frame shop have already put the frame wire on the backs of the frames for you.

8-Frame. At the frame shop you can find ready-made frames that will display eight photos, nicely matted. These frames display family photos very well and make nice gifts. An eight-frame with family photos makes a special present at a family event, such as birthday or wedding,

Veil. Very near the frame shop, in the downtown area, you will find a shop that specializes in veils and hats for special occasions. Whether it is a wedding veil or a stylish hat for a wedding guest, the staff there will help you find something attractive and appropriate.

Smoker. Every month cigar and pipe fanciers gather to sample tobaccos from around the world. The meetings alternate – one month for pipe smokers, the next for those favoring cigars. Each month a different tobacco is featured and everyone is invited to try the featured one and comment on it.

Comb. It is best to make a distinction between two types of comb. Old Comb is the one you have had in your back pocket for quite a while and is missing quite a number of teeth. New Comb is the one you just bought at the drugstore to replace the Old Comb that you finally threw out.

Bee yard. This is a unit of measurement in the beekeeping world. Six bee feet make one bee yard. This measurement is generally used to measure out the bee’s home area.

Roping. This is a sport seen at rodeos sanctioned by the AFB. You need a quick, well-schooled and dependable horse and a quality lariat. The event is judged on your speed and proficiency at roping a steer. The performance of the horse also enters into your final score.

Queen cup. If you are planning a formal afternoon tea, it is best to have a set of bone china teacups, such as those made by Royal Doulton, that would be suitable if the queen came. Since her schedule probably would not include your afternoon tea, an elegant tea set still makes your event special.

Swarm. Short version of 'it’s warm.' It is a term frequently heard in the Spring as the weather warms. Beekeepers seem to have mixed feelings about the warming weather. Some seem very pleased while others seem very upset.

Grafting. An often-heard term used in reference to politicians or possibly big businesses. Grafting seems to occur frequently but covertly. You may hear clandestine terms such as 'the grafts were successful,' meaning that some money or favors were successfully transferred. The term is used in a derogatory sense by the average person.

Nectary. The Nectary is a delightful juice bar in the downtown area near the frame shop. Daily specials are offered during the lunch hour. The summertime juice drinks are served over shaved ice for a refreshing moment on a sultry Summer day.

Patty. The secretary of the local beekeepers association. Always cheerful and very efficient.

Foundation. That part of any structure upon which the rest of the structure is built. For example, cement blocks are usually used for houses or other small buildings by most contractors. Large buildings may have deep foundations of poured concrete. After the foundation is complete, the outline and size of the structure can be seen.

Cell. The usual term for the enclosures in a jail. They come in various sizes, such as queen, worker, small, etc.

Queen muff. During the nineteenth century a muff was a very fashionable way for ladies to keep their hands warm on cold Winter days. Muffs went out of fashion during the twentieth century as women found warm gloves allowed the fingers to be free for various tasks such as driving. Today in the twenty-first century muffs seem to have come back in fashion.

Super. An exclamation denoting something wonderful. The word is also used in football. At the end of the season’s games the championship game is called the Super Bowl. It is famous for its television commercials.

Cappings. In the downtown area, near the shop selling veils and hats, you will find a small shop named Cappings. Here you can find hundreds of baseball-style caps with logos and names of many different sports teams, names of cities, countries, and beers. Caps can be made to order with colors and emblems for local events, charities and organizations.

Extractor. This is a handy gadget for retrieving objects that have been dropped or rolled in an inconvenient place, such as behind a bookcase or under the refrigerator. A small extractor, also called tweezers, can be useful in removing splinters from fingers. One type of extractor is generally called a corkscrew.

Inner cover. A lightweight blanket usually found between the top bed sheet and the quilt. If the night was too warm to use the heavy quilt, the sheet and inner cover usually kept one warm enough.

Outer cover. The quilt.

Cloake Board. A very quaint term seen in its old form of spelling. It is a board that held pegs for people to hang their cloaks on.

Sticky board. A board used by chefs to keep bowls from sliding about during mixing of ingredients.

Moving screen. Thoughtful moving companies will use a screen while moving furniture either out of or into your home so nosy neighbors do not see the sorry state of your sofa or other rather derelict furniture.

You now have a good working vocabulary so that you can attend meetings and feel confident that you can have a good, useful conversation with beekeepers both novice and experienced.

Ann Harman communicates with beekeepers – old and new – from her home in Flint Hill, Virginia.

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