Marking the Queen


Jim Chaisson and I marked our hive’s queen bees this afternoon.  Why would we want to do that?  So that whenever we should perform maintenance on a hive and/or extract honey, we are readily able to see and protect her majesty.

There is only one queen per hive and she stands out as being slightly larger and longer than any other bee.  I’ve highlighted the queen in the photo with the arrow.


After we gently take apart the hive and work through the combs to find her, it’s then time to wrestle her into a jar for isolation and marking.  We were actually able to pick them up or herd them to the edge of the comb and into the jar.


As long as you are gentle and quiet, the bees will not become agitated and sting.  Once in the jar, we can press the foam pad and the bee into the screen, which will then hold her tight for marking.


In this photo I put a dab of paint on the bee’s thorax (back), right between the wings, which will allow for easy identification in the future.


Note the white paint mark on the bee’s back.  It’s now time to put her back into the hive and re-stack the layer of the hive.  Different colors indicate what year the queen was marked.


The bees are actively feeding on our apple blossoms.  Soon they will be heavily feeding on tulip poplar, then followed by black locust.  They work up to a one-mile range when collecting pollen, and we are surrounded by small farms with plenty of nectar sources.

Come late June or early July it will be time to take the honey from the hive, which will be strained and bottled as “Burchick’s Best.”  I’ll be ordering small glass jars soon and making custom labels.

Thank you Jason Hough for showing us how to mark queen bees, and thank you to Jim for your mentorship, as I am still a novice beekeeper with lots to learn about the science of beekeeping.