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Johnny's Garden Bees & Hives

Queen bee colour coded marking

Around the world apiculturists (beekeepers) employ a series of colour codes to identify queen bees and indicate their age. One method is to apply a dot of harmless quick-drying paint to the thorax of the bee so that it stands out within the hive’s population.

Another, more recent, method is to use plastic/aluminium disks, readily available in queen marking kits, attached using a special non-toxic glue. The disks are either blank – solid colour only – or numbered. These 2-digit numbers are used for stock control where there are many new queens being reared.

Here’s a quick and handy guide to identifying your queen:

International Queen Marking Color Code
Colour Last digit of year Example
White 1 or 6 2011
Yellow 2 or 7 2012
Red 3 or 8 2013
Green 4 or 9 2014
Blue 5 or 0 2015