There are basically two reasons for which you would like to mark your queens:
- Sometimes it’s really hard to see the queen in your hive if she is not marked. Marking her will help you to see her faster and you will be sure that she is in the frame and not “walking in the garden”
- Each year the color of the mark changes, so you know exactly how old your queen is.
The queen is marked with a dot of paint on her thorax (the part of the body between the head and the abdomen), and to be able to mark the queen, you will need to use a device that will help you in this task.
There are different varieties of queen marking paints in the market. We bought some time ago a pack of 5 pen type markers and these are the ones we use every year.
Below is the International Color Code you can follow to mark your queens
The mark should be small, in this way will not cover any other part of the queen body.
Many times, the queen that comes in a package comes already marked. But this is not always in this way. If you are a new beekeeper and bought an unmarked queen we can help you a little by showing the way we do this task.
We hope the images are helpful for you 🙂
First step is to “catch the queen”. For that, you can use a helpful tool called “queen catcher”, it’s a
small plastic tool that opens when you squeeze the handle. Once the catcher is totally open put it over the queen and very carefully close it.
Second step is to introduce the queen in another tool called “tube marking”. It is a clear tube with a plastic mesh in the end. The tube is were you will literally (and again, carefully) drop the queen in.
Once you have the queen inside the tube, is time to use the “plunger” which is a little stick with a sponge in the end. Slowly you will start “pushing” the queen with the sponge until she is barely touching the plastic mesh. Be careful in this step and don’t squeeze so hard.
Now you have the queen in the correct position. You have her thorax on the top and she can’t move at all, but don’t worry, these tools are specially design for this task, so, if you work with care, the queen will not be hurt at all.
It’s time now to finally mark the queen. For this just need to use the pen with the correct color for the present year, and make a dot in her thorax.
Wait a few seconds to allow the ink to dry completely and then you can release the queen in the hive again. While you wait for the ink to dry, you can take a look and verifying that she is doing OK.
To release the queen inside the hive, we just open the tube and lye it on top of the hive, you will see the queen walking to the end of the tube and quickly she will go inside her hive.
And now the queen is “on duty” again ! Now you will always (or almost always) see you queen while she is working in the frames and…….bad for her…….you will know exactly how old she is 🙂