Queen Marking

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


New Bee
Mar 27, 2009
Reaction score
Winchester, Hampshire
Hive Type
Number of Hives
I'd like to mark the queen from the swarm I acquired a few weeks ago. I guess its impossible to tell how old the queen is from a swarm, so I suppose It doesn't really matter what colour to use.
I find it hard to find the queen unless she's marked. I know its not always essential to find her, and that just finding evidence of eggs is enough to satisfy yourself she's there, but I'd feel happier to see that blob of paint when I'm going through the frames, so I can take extra care not to squash her!

What method would you reccommend for a beginner to mark a queen.....? A press in cage? One of the plunger type cages? Or something else...? I hear marking drones is a good way of practicing!
There is quite a bit of information available in books, and the internet, but the whole process scares me a bit if I'm honest. I'm just interested to hear how others do it, and to hear stories of both successful and unsuccessful attempts!
Thought about having a practice on a drone yesterday, but lost my bottle! :(
Make sure she is laying before you mark her.
I use a crown of thorns cage and a marker pen.
I marked one of my queens for the first time at the weekend, i used the press in cage (crown of thorns) and through nerves kicking in marked her red by mistake but she can be clearly seen now.
Was a bit nervous and wasn't sure how hard to press in the cage so pushed it in gently till she stopped moving (but not squished) tested how hard to press pen on the back of my hand then marked her, left paint to dry for a few minutes then released her.
Finished checking the hive then went back to the frame she was on to check she was ok and found her easily on the opposite frame.

Good luck.

Ps it's green for 2009
Last edited:
I also use the push in cage. I mark mine white cos I got a white pen.
Mark her a colour that suits you.

Yellow is pretty hopeless in a rape area. :)

I kicked the "official" marking dodah into touch donkeys years as IT DID NOT SUIT ME.

And I keep my bees to please me.

Simple really.

I find white, red, green are best for my eyes. Blue is not so great but reasonable.

I could only get a choice of blue or green when I bought a pen last year but went for blue. It really stands out well. For me anyway. I am just going to keep using blue till the pen runs out. It helps that I like the colour though too.

Why should you not mark the queens until they are mated? Is there a reason behind it or is it just because she is mated?
If you happen to get some ink on her wings she might not be able to take mating flights. The same applies if you happen to damage a wing in some way during the manipulation. If you use the press in cage, a queen can sometimes reverse and poke a wing through the cross threads and get ink on her wings which rubs off the threads. I have a queen from last year which I marked a month ago and she still has some marker on her wings.

It is never a good idea to disrupt a virgin queen.
Go for the marker pen as opposed to the stuff in a bottle. I tried that first and as Jon states I got ink on the queen's wing (very easy to do!). I have since moved to the marker pen and find that much easier and less messy to use.

Latest posts