Marking The Queen Video

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.
We decided to mark our queen to make her easier to find, and to know for certain that each time we see her, we know it's the same queen and the colony hasn't raised a new queen.

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

Years ending:
1 or 6 - WHITE
2 or 7 - YELLOW
3 or 8 - RED
4 or 9 - GREEN
5 or 0 - BLUE

Comments For This Post: (2) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Holly says...
Date:   June 14, 2011, 12:12 pm

Wow!  Never tried that before.  It's nearly impossible for me to find the royal highness in my 2 hives.  How long did it take for you to find yours?

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   June 14, 2011, 1:47 pm

Great question!

Sometimes it feels like you're playing a game of "Where's Waldo" when you're looking for the queen.

I've had pretty good luck finding the queen fairly quickly whenever I look for her. Sometimes, though, I only look for signs of eggs and larva to know she's there and keep the inspection on hot summer days!

I usually start by removing a frame from one of the ends. Check it and set it on the frame rest. This gives you some room to work, and makes it less likely that you will “roll” the queen as you move frames in and out.

I go through the frames one-by-one checking both sides of each frame, replacing it in the hive after I’ve looked.

The queen is not only longer with a pointed abdomen, but she stands with all six legs splayed apart and the workers part the way for her as she goes. When she stops, a group of them will stand facing her or cluster around her. I can sometimes spot her quickly by looking for a group of bees clustering around together.

Once you spot her, the next trick is to catch her. She moves quickly, and I missed an opportunity to mark her the first time I tried because she moved off the frame I saw her on and onto another and disappeared before I could get my marking supplies in hand.

If you're able to catch one/both of your queens and get her marked, let us know how it worked out!

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