There are several reasons a beekeeper would want to mark the queen:
- To know if the queen has died/left and the colony has replaced her with a new queen.
- To know what year the queen was purchased/introduced to the hive.
- To more easily spot the queen when looking for her.
There are two methods to mark a queen, to catch her bare handed, hold onto her legs with one hand and mark her with the other hand; alternatively use a queen marking tube which allows you to keep her in the tube while marking her.
I'm still not quite confident in my ability to pick up the queen without hurting her yet, so I opted for the queen marking tube option.
In the video below, you'll see us place the tube in front of the queen, she'll walk up into it, we'll mark her and let the paint dry, and then replace her on the frame she came from.
It's important to let the paint dry before reintroducing her, or the attendant bees will clean the paint off of her and you'll have to mark her again.
In case you're interested, there are specific colors for marking queens of certain years.
International color code
1 or 6 - WHITE
2 or 7 - YELLOW
3 or 8 - RED
4 or 9 - GREEN
5 or 0 - BLUE