api·​ary ˈā-pē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce apiary (audio)
plural apiaries
: a place where bees are kept
especially : a collection of hives or colonies of bees kept for their honey

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Beekeeping, or apiculture, is the care of honeybees that ensures that they produce more honey than they can use. An apiary usually consists of many separate beehives. The social life of a hive is strange and marvelous. The queen bee, who will become the mother of an entire colony, is actually created by being fed "royal jelly" while she is still only a larva. The tens of thousands of worker bees are underdeveloped females; only a handful of the bees are male, and they do no work at all. The workers defend the hive by kamikaze means, stinging any intruder and dying as they do so. There's more drama in a quiet-looking apiary than the casual observer might notice.

Examples of apiary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The resort also features a food and beverage program led by chef Ryan Watson, formerly of the prestigious Fairmont Banff Springs—and the kitchen team is working on all sorts of local, sustainable touches such as a 10,000 square foot kitchen garden, as well as a small apiary to produce house honey. Todd Plummer, Condé Nast Traveler, 1 Apr. 2024 This La Jolla property recently completed a major renovation of its 210 guest rooms and suites, plus its multiple lawn spaces, and added a new apiary and chef’s garden. Alesandra Dubin, Travel + Leisure, 19 Mar. 2024 The county Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures came to the apiary to investigate what may have caused the die-off, including testing dead bees for chemicals. Caleb Lunetta, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Jan. 2024 Fruits and vegetables are grown on-site, and there’s a bee apiary and chicken coop. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 23 Jan. 2024 Dominick Peck and Paul Gunn, co-owners of the San Diego Bee Sanctuary, had arrived at their honey-making apiary in Escondido on Sept. 20 to find that 65 of their 67 hives had died. Caleb Lunetta, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Jan. 2024 Advertisement The two beekeepers used a GoFundMe page to finance their rebuild, but oftentimes other apiaries or backyard beekeepers don’t have the funds to reinvest in their colonies after a massive die-off. Caleb Lunetta, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Oct. 2023 At the urban apiary on the rooftop of the Hilton hotel in McLean, Virginia, the harvest goes to the kitchen and bar, where it’s mixed with equal parts warm water. Noah Lederman, Popular Science, 2 Nov. 2023 The on-site apiary, home to more than two million honeybees, is the largest in the city; honey is available for purchase in the farm store, as are fresh eggs. Lauren Dana Ellman, Travel + Leisure, 27 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'apiary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin apiārium, from apis "bee" (of obscure origin) + -ārium -ary entry 1

Note: Latin apis is superficially similar to the etymon *bi- seen in English bee and with varying suffixation in other northern Indo-European words (see bee entry 1), but cannot be connected in any phonetically regular way. A loan from ancient Egyptian ̓ fj "bee" has been hypothesized.

First Known Use

1654, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of apiary was in 1654

Dictionary Entries Near apiary

Cite this Entry

“Apiary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apiary. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


api·​ary ˈā-pē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce apiary (audio)
plural apiaries
: a place where bees are kept
especially : a collection of hives of bees kept for their honey

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