Queen Marking Kit
See it in action here.
Beehave Queen Marking Kit
About Marking Queens
There are some good reasons to mark a queen. The first is that it makes her easier to spot in the hive. Seeing your queen not only gives you piece of mind that she really is there, but also helps you avoid injuring or losing her. She’ll be easier to find when making splits or when it comes time to replace her. By following a year/color code you can tell how old your queen is and where she came from. If you find a queen that is not marked, you know that your hive swarmed or superceded your nice queen for some reason. If you’re raising your own queens from selected breeding colonies, you need to mark your queen mothers
There are also some good reasons not to mark a queen. First and foremost is that any meddling with the queen will increase the possibility of rejection. No doubt about it. Bees are olfactory (odor-oriented) critters. Communication within the hive relies on a complex and dynamic system of chemical cues. Think about it. It’s dark in there. They can’t speak or hear. They need some way to communicate and coordinate the activities of 50,000 individuals. The queen produces pheromones (chemical communication signals) from her head and mouth, her feet, and even her feces! Paint, human smells, soap, perfume, and even other queen odors are cause for suspicion.
The queen may also be injured during the marking process - loss of a leg, a wing, or an antenna may result in rejection. Even the loss of part of a wing in the clipping process is risky. This is why I strongly discourage clipping queens.
The good news is that using a queen marking tube can greatly reduce the risk of injury as well as reduce the foreign odors introduced. The other good news of course is that pretty soon you’ll be an old hand at beekeeping and will be able to tell which few frames the queen might be on and spot her when you pull it up. You’ll be able to listen to the sound two halves of a hive make and know which has the queen or be able to open a hive and know right away that there’s no queen.
Marking Your Queen
Practice on some drones first. They’re nice and big and they can’t sting. Wash your hands. No cologne, hand lotion, sanitizing gel allowed. I suggest euthanizing the marked drones in the freezer. Otherwise they'll drive you crazy when you're looking for the queen!