Beekeeping Terminology – What is Beekeeping Called?

For those not experienced with beekeeping, you may notice a lot of unfamiliar words. A common question I get is, what is beekeeping called?  It’s true that there are technical terms for beekeeping, beekeepers, and bee yards. 

What is Beekeeping Called?

Beekeeping is called apiculture.  Apiculture refers to the maintenance of bee colonies in man made hives.  Basically, apiculture is the scientific method of raising honey bees.  

It comes from the latin word “apis”, which means bee. You will find that many beekeeping terms derive from the word apis.  For example, apis mellifera is the scientific name for the Western Honey Bee.  While the genus name Apis means bee, mellifera is latin for honey bearing.  

Beekeeping is called apiculture.

Humans have been practicing apiculture for a very long time.  There are images that are 10,000 years old that show honey being collected from bees. Egyptian art shows evidence of domesticated bees 4,500 years ago.  

In the 18th century, scientists began to study bee biology, leading to a greater understanding of honey bees.  Then, in the 19th century, apiculture was revolutionized by the invention of the moveable comb beehive by Lorenzo Langstroth.  This design is still widely used today.

Another Word for Beekeeper

Another word for beekeeper is apiarist.  An apiarist is a person who cares for and raises bees.  Apiarists raise bees in man made hives for agricultural or commercial purposes.  

Most apiarists are hobby beekeepers, meaning that they own just a few hives. Hobby beekeepers typically raise bees for the fun of it, and because it’s interesting.  They may also make some extra money by selling honey, pollen, and beeswax. 

While beekeeping has long been popular in rural areas and farms, more apiarists have been popping up in cities, thanks to a new interest in urban beekeeping. Urban beekeepers raise bees in densely populated cities, even by placing their hives upon their rooftops. 

Commercial beekeepers, on the other hand are responsible for hundreds, or even thousands of hives. These colonies produce a large amount of honey for profit.  The first commercial beekeepers emerged in the early 19th century and continues today, all around the world.  

Of all the apiarists in the world, only 5% are commercial beekeepers. However, they produce so much honey that they are responsible for as much as 60% of the world’s honey crop.  

Another word for beekeeper is apiarist. 

Where are Beehives Kept?

The place where beekeepers keep their beehives is called a bee yard, or an apiary.  There is no one way to set up an apiary, as it depends on the area and how many hives are being kept.  If you are new to beekeeping, be sure to check out your local ordinances to see if there are any regulations regarding where you may keep bees.  

Apiaries must have proper spacing for each hive, as well as space for the beekeeper to work.  As a rule of thumb, most beehives should be kept 2 feet apart.  If you have predators in your area, you may also want to fence your apiary.  

You also want your apiary to be mostly level, free of vegetation, and in an area that gets a good amount of both sun and shade.  For more information on how to choose the best location for beehives, see here.  

The place where beekeepers keep their beehives is called a bee yard, or an apiary. 

What is a Collective Group of Bees Called?

Inside the hive, a group of bees is referred to as a colony.  Each bee colony consists of 1 queen bee, female worker bees, male drones, and brood – eggs, larvae, and pupae.  A bee colony will typically have 10,000 to over 60,000 bees.  

The number of bees in a colony changes during the seasons.  In the spring, when the hive is most active, the colony will have the most bees.  In the winter, the population of the colony will decrease dramatically.

Outside the hive, a collective group of bees would more often be referred to as a swarm.  A swarm occurs when one colony splits into 2.  The queen bee and half of the colony will leave the hive in search for a new home.  

First they’ll go to a temporary location while they wait for scout bees to find a good place to live.  While in their temporary location they will look like a large clump of bees.  Swarming bees are usually docile because they have no home or brood to protect.  

Inside the hive, a group of bees is referred to as a colony.  Outside the hive, a collective group of bees would more often be called a swarm.  


Beekeeping is also called apiculture, from the latin word, apis.  Another word for beekeeper is apiarist, while a bee yard is called an apiary.  A group of bees inside a hive is called a colony, while a group of bees outside a hive is called a swarm.