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How to mark a queen

When inspecting the beehive, it can be useful to check that the queen is alive and well. However, this is easier said than done with a strong colony of over 40,000 bees. So, to make your life easier, you can mark the queen with a coloured dot on her back.

How to mark her
You can mark the queen with either a special colouring pen, paint or even a stick-on dot. You can buy either of these queen marking kits from most bee suppliers (including us).

What colour or choose?
Unfortunately there isn't a large colour swatch to choose from. In fact there is an international colour code for bees. This allows you to tell the age of any a marked queen.

Year ending: Colour
5 or 0 Blue
6 or 1 White
7 or 2 Yellow
8 or 3 Red
9 or 4 Green

For example if you requeened a queen in 2012 - you would put a yellow dot on her thorax.

Finding the queen
The best time to find the queen is in April, at the start of the season when there are only a small number of bees in the colony. Alternatively, if you are buying a nucleus of bees then it is worth asking the bee supplier to mark the queen for you.

Once you have found the queen, you can either pick her up with your fingers or use a queen cage. While the queen is on the comb, you should lower the cage over the queen. The worker bees will escape from the spikes but the queen will remain. Using a queen marking pen or numbering kit - you should put a dot on the back of her thorax.

Diagram of queen marking cage.

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