Differences in Shape Anatomy Between Queen B and Other Bees in the Colony
On many places, i have read that mature queen B is the largest bee in the colony. Comparing Queen B and working bees it is true because queens are usually twice the size. But when you compare it with male drones they can be almost the same size so easy to make a mistake for untrained eyes.
First, you have to know the basic differences:
- Queen has long and narrow pointy abdomen. Other bees and especially drones have more rounded abdomen.
- Queen’s wings cover only half of the body so in case you think you have found the queen check the length of the wings and if they cover the entire body most likely it is a drone.
- The back of the queen is hairless and shiny.
- Legs of the queen are longer due to her longer body
Movement around the hive
Watch closely the frame you are inspecting and check for the movement that is different from the rest of the frame. The reason for it is that when the queen is on the move all other bees make way for her and you can see something that resembles a trail behind her.
Also, the way she moves is like swaying most likely because she is pregnant and delivering eggs all the time (up to 2000 eggs every day).
When you open the hive and start looking for her know that queen is smart and most likely she will be on the move and when you look one side she moves down the frame and crosses to another side of the frame. So pay attention to the bottom of the frame for a distinctive queen walk.
Also while she eats, working bees are around her facing her in a circular shape, feeding her.
So when you see a pattern like this it is a good sign that you have found the queen.
Do Not Look for Differences in Color
I have read that bee-keepers that do not have experience are trying to spot the queen by looking for a difference in color and that the lighter colored bee will be the queen. This is not the case because queens can have different colors depending on origin,age…beekeepers most likely make this mistake because the queen in their hive that they are familiar with has that characteristic and then they apply it to all queen bees, so learn from their mistake as I did and try to find queen the proper way.
When the queen is marked she is easier to locate in the hive full of bees. Especially make life easier for the beekeepers with no experience. Because this way they will be capable to spot her much faster.
If colored with right color you will know the exact age of the queen bee and when is the time to replace her
It is also helpful if you are not able to find your marked queen most likely colony replaced her with a new one.
Even though it is a great help do not fully rely on it because mark can wear off or the colony can replace the queen with new unmarked one so you should use methods described to locate her.
Where to Look for the Queen B?
Queen B is delivering eggs all the time so best chance to find her is to look for the fresh eggs or larva, and the first place to look is Brood nest with capped combs covered with Royal jelly milky substance. That is a sign that queen recently hatched the egg in the comb and now it is in a developing process. She starts laying eggs in the center of the hive and spreads outwards. So when you find the youngest part of the hive she will most likely be there.
When you open the hive make sure you look for her quickly because any disturbance of the hive makes her go into hiding mode and it will be harder to spot her. Important to know that queen B can be anywhere in the hive so make sure you are careful especially when taking out the frames not to accidentally hurt your queen. So be quick but delicate. In case you know experienced beekeeper ask him or her to help you with first queen spotting.
Can a Beehive Have Two Queens?
The answer is yes and according to the experienced beekeepers, it happens a lot. It lasts for a week or even a month that sound like a short period but in that short period hive can have to queens.
This is happening when new queens cell hatches and the old queen is still alive so you can call this transition before the new queen takes the throne. In that time both queens lay the eggs and do their duties so the colony continues to advance.
The main reason that many of beekeepers did not register 2 queens at the same time is that when you find the queen you do not look for the second one.
Next time you look for the queen and find one try to spot a second one who knows maybe you find her.
Marking Queen B
Before you even start looking for the queen prepare your brush and paint. For the paint, you can use Tester’s Model Paint or any acrylic based paint and the brush you use should be small and soft.
If you want to mark your Queen properly you have to pick the right color for the specific year. That way you will know her age and when is the time for her to be replaced.
When you locate the queen as instructed above you have 2 options of coloring her
One is to grab her very very softly by her wings, not her abdomen. This is a very delicate process and even experience beekeeper made a mistake , either rip the wings or even crushed the queen by applying to much pressure on the body.
When you have her in your hand make sure you hold her above the hive in case you drop her it is better for her to be back in the hive and not on the ground.
Apply the small amount of paint on her body in the upper part exactly between her front legs and put her back in the hive. I have found great advice to practice first few times on drone bees without really marking them just to get a fell of picking them up gently.
The second way is to get the marking container (bee marking cage). Take the cage and place it over the queen start moving it with the queen to make her go part of the frame with empty combs. Press the cage gently to contain her take the brush to mark her body as instructed above and lift the cage and let her back
Colors That are Used to Color the Queen for Different Years
- White paint is used for queens marked in years ending in 1 or 6.
- If the year ends in 2 or 7, use yellow.
- Use red for years ending in 3 or 8.
- Green paint is used for years ending in 4 or 9.
- Use blue for years ending in 5 or 0.