Apiculture Factsheet #1303
The international colour codes for marking honey bee queens are
|For years ending in:
||0 or 5
||1 or 6
||= White / Grey
||2 or 7
||3 or 8
||4 or 9
Marking a queen may be advantageous for various reasons:
- a marked queen is readily identified;
- with the use of the international colour coding, the age of
the queen will be known;
- marking queens with numbered disks and/or colour coding allows
for identification of specific bee strains, lineage or other
For marking queens, one can use nail varnish or plastic/aluminum
disks available in a queen marking kit. For the latter, a special
non-toxic glue is provided and the disks are either numbered or
- Manual: The queen can be marked by carefully placing
the fingers on the sides of her thorax. Alternatively, the queen
can be held by holding one of her hindlegs. When she is held
securely, carefully apply the varnish or glued disk and wait
until dry. Note: Before marking your queen, try out the manual
method on a few drones or worker bees.
- Wire Cage: A small wire-mesh cage can be constructed
where the sides are bent downward. After locating the queen,
carefully place the wire cage over her and gently press down
until she can no longer move. Carefully apply the varnish or the
glued disk and wait for one minute or so to let the glue dry.
Carefully raise the wire cage.
- Marking Cage: Some beekeepers prefer the use of a
marking cage comprised of a plastic tube closed off with a
wire-mesh material on one side. The queen is allowed to walk
into the tube and a plunger is used to force her up to the
screen. A soft spongy material is often placed on the surface of
the plunger. The queen should be held in place until the marking
material is dry.
* Do not allow glue or varnish to run down the sides of
the thorax or on other body parts of the queen. Keep a few Q-tips
ready to mop up any spillage.