Marking the Queen

It's much easier to find a marked queen.
It’s much easier to find a marked queen.

Marking your queens is an excellent idea and there are several reasons why. Marking the queen helps spot the queen more easily when doing inspections. It’s amazing how easier it is to spot a marked queen on a frame especially if there are many bees around. You will also know if a queen has been replaced or superceded in the hive if she’s missing. Another reason to mark your queen is so you know the age of your queen. If you only run a couple hives, it’s not a big deal, but if you run 50 or more, you simply can’t remember.

When you mark a queen, the color used depends on the year as indicated in the chart below. The last digit of the year determines the color. For example, in the year 2017, the last digit is 7 so the queen color is yellow. If you notice, there is a 5 year repeating pattern, so 2012 queens are also yellow, but queens usually don’t live that long. Queen will usually live 2-4 years and are relaced by the beekeeper or superceded. Wheather you follow this chart is up to you but this is considered a ‘rule of thumb’ for marking queens.

Year ending in Color Code
1 or 6 White
2 or 7 Yellow
3 or 8 Red
4 or 9 Green
5 or 0 Blue


You can use other colors too with your own special coding system for example you may want to color code by breed instead.

Beekeepers will also write down the date of the queen on the lid of the hive. If you have a tin lid on your covers, it works great. It wears off with time and that’s ok. You don’t need records from 10 years ago.