When you see a picture of a queen bee you will often see a mark on her head but why does a queen bee have a coloured dot on her head?

The first thing to say is that unfortunately nature does not put that dot on the queen’s head. It is a mark put there by the beekeeper, but why?

A Marked Queen Bee

The first reason we mark our queens is to make the easier to spot. An unmarked queen can be very elusive among 50,000 to 60,000 of her daughters and there are certain jobs a beekeeper needs to carry out that require the queen to be identified. This is particularly true when performing swarm management techniques. The spot really makes a difference when you are looking for that queen.

The second reason is to be able to identify the age of the queen. There is a marking system which runs White, Yellow, Red, Green, Blue to cover the maximum life span of a queen of five years. In truth these days as a result of the mild winters queen rarely make it to four years old, let alone five. Yellow was the colour for 2022 queens and so this year (2023) they are marked red.

Different people use different types of pain to mark their queens but I find the pens that you can buy from the beekeeping suppliers to be the best. They don’t seem to give off any smell that upsets the bees unlike nail polish which should never be used because the chemicals it contains can often upset the bees so much that they kill the queen.

If you want to see how to mark a queen please have a look at the following YouTube video How To Mark & Clip A Queen

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