Queen colour system – How to mark queen bees

When we show people our observation hive, the first thing most viewers request is to see the queen. It usually doesn’t take people long to find our queens though, due to their brightly marked backs. Recently we got asked “why is it green, was she born like that?”

“Maybe she’s born with it… Maybe it’s just a marker pen”


Anyway, the purpose of this post is to explain the colour marking system that many beekeepers use.

Not all beekeepers will use this queen marking system, however, most who sell queen bees will choose to follow this system as it allows beekeepers to easily determine the age of a queen bee.

The colour system involves marking the queens a colour that corresponds with the year in which they are mated. This is as follows:

– Years that end in 1 or 6 get a white dot

– Years that end in 2 or 7 get a yellow dot

– Years that end in 3 or 8 get a red dot

– Years that end in 4 or 9 get a green dot

– Years that end in 5 or get a blue dot

In order to mark queens, a lot of beekeepers use these Posca Paint Pens.

A cheesy but easy way to remember this queen marking system is with the saying “will you raise good bees?”

Yep, lame, but easy to remember.

If you only raise a couple of queens and don’t really feel like investing in a different coloured marker pen each year, then it’s no big deal. Just use whatever colour you have laying around.

However, if you manage a few hives and would benefit from keeping track of your queens age when you install the queens, then this is a handy little system to implement.

If you have a question about marking queen bees, or have a useful suggestion that may help others, feel free to comment below.

{Bonus points for whoever comes up with a better acronym for remembering the colour system than us!}

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