Do you know the queen colours?

honey bee queen colours modeled by QEII

The queen fashionably models the honey-bee queen colours.

If you mark your queens, you should follow the international queen-colour code: White in 2016 and 2021, Yellow in 2017 and 2022, etc. This system has been around for decades because it’s uniform, consistent, and lets a beekeeper know the age of the queen while making it easier to spot her in a crowd. (As you can see from the picture above.)

A few weeks ago, I was showing a hive as part of a field school that I was helping teach for the Calgary and District Beekeepers. I noticed that the new hive, installed as a package in April, had a queen marked in red. I’d forgotten that this year was supposed to be green. Turns out that the queen was from New Zealand and caged in December (mid-summer there), so it was marked red by the Kiwi beekeeper who sold it. That poor queen, young though she be, will always be thought of as a year older.

Queens produced this year should be marked green. A yellow queen in your hive is growing old and a blue or white one might need to be replaced.  If you have trouble remembering the order (White, Yellow, Red, Green, Blue), here’s a mnemonic: Will You Raise Good Bees?  (Or, maybe you prefer the more graphic: Why your rotting goat barks.)

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Beekeeping, Queens, Strange, Odd Stuff and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Do you know the queen colours?

  1. John says:

    “Why You R Good Bees” is a better mnemonic.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Bye ’21: Don’t let the door hit you. . . | Bad Beekeeping Blog

  3. Pingback: Bye ’21: Don’t let the door hit you. . . - One-Bee-Store

  4. Pingback: Bye ’21: Don’t let the door hit you. . . – Tired of bed bugs

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