The queen is the central figure of the hive. She must be changed regularly and inserted in a several thousand-bees population. Finding and marking a queen requires extreme patience, gentleness and an alert sense of observation. A little tips is that you should expect to find your queen next to freshest brood.
Finding a queen is surprisingly difficult, although she is unique among 30 000 to 50 000 other bees. Finding your queen is obviously easier when she is marked. If it isn’t the case here are a few instructions: gently use your smoker on top of your frames, then proceed to remove them one by one and placing them in a new (empty) hive with a queen excluder. When doing so, all the bees will fall inside the hive, except for the queen who will be blocked by the queen excluder and therefore easily found.
A specific and international color-coding etiquette exists, each color stands for the year of birth of the queen.
– Blue: year ending with 0 or 5
– White: years ending with 1 or 6
– Yellow: years ending with 2 or 7
– Red: years ending with 3 or 8
– Green: years ending with 4 or 9
Nonetheless, some professional beekeepers, who needs to change their queens fairly regularly, mark them using only one or two colors (the ones they judge more visible).
To mark your queen you should very gently catch it between your thumb and index around its upper chest or with a queen marking tube and place the colored ink on its back. Remain still got a few seconds so that the ink has time to dry.