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  • Writer's pictureLinda

Hello Red Queen

Cliffe Castle Observation Hive Bee Blog #10 2023

A combined effort this morning at the weekly inspection of the Observation Hive. I spotted our new queen and Steve caught and marked her, with a red dot on her thorax. Can you see her in the marking cage below? You’ll need to look carefully as she certainly didn’t feel like posing for the photo!

She has been busy laying across a second inner frame since the last check. So now we can see eggs, larvae, and some sealed brood on the combs. I had meant to take some frames of clean foundation to replace the grubby comb on one side of the hive, but of course, I forgot. Promise I’ll get that job done next week.

Marking queen honey bees

I have been asked before now “how did that coloured dot get onto the queen?” Well, the answer is that the beekeeper puts it there. We mark queen bees for several reasons: a splash of colour helps us to find a queen more easily, when we are inspecting a large colony of bees (that may number 50-60,000 at the height of the season); plus if we mark a queen according to the international colour coding system, we can quickly work out how old she is – an important factor in calculating the risk of swarming. We put her in a cage and gently immobilise her to mark her on her thorax, using a non-toxic paint marker.

You can see the international colour codes for queen bee marking in the diagram. It helps to remember the sequence with the sentence: Will You Raise Good Bees?

Tune in next time for more about swarming. We’re in the thick of it right now!



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