Who can resist specialized vocabulary? Not I. Absconding swarm, American foulbrood, Braula coeca, buff comb, Demaree (‘the method of swarm control that separates the queen from most of the brood within the same hive’), supersedure (‘a natural replacement of an established queen by a daughter in the same hive’)—it’s all here. (Via Incoming Signals.)

Update. Vernica at thinking while typing has a great list of bee-related links.


  1. I’m surprised to see mead listed as a specialist term, since we can buy it fairly easily in the UK. Is it uncommon in the States? But thanks for an interesting list of terms from a pastime that’s unfamiliar to me.

  2. I don’t recall seeing it for sale, although I’m sure you can get it. But this isn’t just specialized words, it’s everything related to beekeeping—they have cell, colony, and comb, for example, which are common words.

  3. Polish mead is available at the University of Chicago Pub, and it’s yummy. I hereby pledge to buy a glass for any laha reader I run across there whenever I happen to be in Chicago.

  4. You can look at and see if there’s a meadery near you… I know that there are several brands, both national and local, available where I live. (Chaucer’s is a national brand out of California and Pirtle is one in our state.)

  5. Hm, can’t remember when I last tasted mead.
    Twenty-odd years ago I visited Oliver Winery near Bloomington (Indiana), where Camelot Mead is made. Must say I liked the souvenir mug better than the contents; more than one member of my SCA branch brewed mead more to my liking.
    I know a supermarket in Oakland (Calif.) that carries a couple of meads – i think Camelot and some English label. And if I know one such store, there may be hundreds, as I don’t make a habit of looking at the wine selection.
    Best mead I ever had was named simply Ancient Mead and made in Ontario, if memory serves. I bought it in Winnipeg – on the day of a total eclipse, plus or minus one.

  6. Other special vocab: I happen to have in-laws who hunt, and they can use ‘hunt’ to mean ’cause [a dog] to hunt’:
    A: Nice new pointer; have you hunted him yet?
    B: Yes; I hunted him yesterday.
    So far though I have not heard it with two objects:
    *I hunted my dog rabbits.
    Prevented, no doubt, by some principle of universal grammar.

  7. I am happy to report that the apiarian sense of supersedure, missing from the OED when this was posted (it had only “U.S. = supersession”), was added in the June 2012 update:

    2. Chiefly Bee-keeping. Replacement of an old or infertile queen by a new one reared in the same colony; an instance of this.
    supersedure cell n. a brood cell in which a queen larva is reared prior to replacing an existing queen.

    1872 Amer. Bee Jrnl. Jan. 151/1 Only in cases of supersedure are the young queens allowed to hatch, and then frequently the young and the old queen remain peaceably in the hive.
    1897 Brit. Bee Jrnl. 25 30/1 The year 1893 was a year of some surplus, so there were a good many supersedures.
    1917 Gleanings Bee Culture Aug. 630/1 Supersedure cells can be distinguished, however, from swarming cells usually by the season.
    1937 Times 12 July 18/7 Supersedure of a worn-out queen often takes place relatively late in the season.
    1990 B. Hölldobler & E. O. Wilson Ants iv. 186/1 Queen succession..occurs in species that reproduce by colony fission and queen supersedure. Prominent examples include ecitonine army ants.
    2011 H. Nordhaus Beekeeper’s Lament vii. 182 Queens in nature are produced through the unpredictable processes of supersedure (replacing a failing or dead queen) and swarming (producing a second one to split the hive).

    Demaree, however, is still absent.

  8. Funny that list uses “queenless” in a gloss, but it does not define the word itself. You might think that there is no entry for queenless because the word is compositional and self explanatory. However, the list also does not include the opposite term queenright, which is not so self explanatory. Moreover, although I only forayed into beekeeping rather briefly, I would consider queenright a much more common term than supersedure. Every beekeeper needs to worry about whether their hives are queenright, whereas supersedure is a much more advanced technique.

    The OED has citations for queenright (including one with “queenright supersedure”) only back to 1911, as opposed to 1780 for queenless:

    Of a colony of social insects, esp. honeybees: possessing a queen.
    In quot. 1932: occurring in the presence of a queen.

    1911 C. C. Miller Fifty Years among Bees 118 When a colony is found that is not queen-right, it is remorselessly broken up, and distributed among other colonies, or united with a weak colony having a good queen.
    1932 E. B. Wedmore Man. Beekeeping ii. 38 In the writer’s opinion the bees in the portion of the hive in question conclude that the queen is failing, and he calls the impulse [to rear a second queen] ‘queenright supersedure’.
    1971 E. O. Wilson Insect Societies xvii. 333/2 Marchal.. also reported the presence of laying workers in queenright wasp colonies.
    1992 Internat. Jrnl. Trop. Agric. 10 240 In Apis mellifera.. the production of wax was more in queenright colonies that in queenless colonies.

  9. Anton Sherwood, 18 years later: Yes, Camelot Mead is barely mead. It’s mead for people who want to say, “cool, I drank mead today!”

  10. Stronger mead is not necessarily better.

Speak Your Mind