Identifying queen bee is not that difficult, especially if you are keeping the bees for a long time. The queen bee is the biggest bee, with special bright golden color.
The queen bee is the leader of a bee colony, and is the mother of most of it’s worker and drone bees. A good and healthy queen bee is mandatory for the health of the hive.
If a queen bee gets old or dies, the hive will also die (especially if the hive can’t get a new queen in time).
So, if you are a beekeeper and want to maintain healthy hive, then you must know how to distinguish a queen bee from the others.
You can also consider marking it once identified. Here we are describing more about how to identify queen bee by looking for it’s behavior, location and physical characteristics.
How to Identify Queen Bee
If you are keeping bees for a while, it will be much easier for you to identify the queen bee. Here we are describing more about the steps for identifying queen bee.
You can identify queen bee by it’s size. The queen bee is the largest bee in the colony. Although some drone bees can also be as big as queen bee, or sometimes even bigger than the queen.
But you can easily tell them apart by thickness. The queen bee is generally longer and narrower in size than any of the other bees in the colony.
Queen bees generally have a pointed abdomen. The abdomen of a queen bee is the lower part of it’s body (near the stinger).
The abdomen of the queen be will have a more pointed shape, while most of the honeybees have blunt abdomens. It’s a great way to tell the queen bee apart easily.
The queen bees generally have legs that splay outward, making the legs much more visible.
While the drone and worker bees have legs that are directly under their bodies, and you will not be able to see much of their legs if you look at them from the top.
So, looking for a bee standing with splayed legs is also a great way for identifying queen bee.
The queen bees have smooth and un-barbed stinger. While the drone, worker and also the virgin queen bees have barbs on their stingers.
If you suspect a bee as queen, then you can gently lift the bee by it’s thorax (the middle of it’s body), and then hold it under a magnifying glass and inspect the stinger.
Identifying Queen Bee By Behavior
You can also identify a queen bee by monitoring it’s behavior. You can monitor the movement of your bees.
Generally the drone and worker bees will move out of the way when the queen is on the move.
And after it passes, rest of the bees will cluster together where it was. You should keep an eye out for bees moving out of the way.
The queen bee is the leader of the colony, and it will not generally do anything.
It has no additional duties except for laying eggs, and it is fed by the rest of the hive.
So look for the bee that does not seem to have any job. It’s probably the queen of the colony.
Marking the Queen
You can consider marking the queen bee once it’s identified. Some beekeeper also prefer clipping the queen’s wings.
But if you prefer marking it, you can put a small dot of paint on it’s thorax (immediately between it’s two front legs).
Any acrylic-based paint is fine for this purpose. Many beekeepers also use model paint or even paint pens. Good luck!