I found this information when I started; and continue to use the same approach with success. I cannot describe it any better. Reference: Micheál Mac Giolla Coda, "Finding, Marking and Clipping Queen Honey Bees", GALTEE BEE BREEDING GROUP, 1997. Excerpted from http://www.gbbg.net/findmarkclip.html; April 22, 2011.
FINDING THE QUEEN.
Generally this poses a problem for beginners, as indeed for some of the more seasoned beekeepers, who are not accustomed to examining their colonies on a regular basis. Perhaps the ability to spot the queen may be described as a gift, which comes with experience in the routine handling of bees, and certainly there would appear to be an acquired "knack" to it. It is generally much easier to find the queen in a colony with a small population of bees, as is usually the position in Spring or early Summer, but sometimes it can be quite difficult to find the queen of a very small colony such as a weak nucleus or a mini mating-nucleus. This is probably due to the fact that in these tiny colonies the queen is more likely to run onto the floor or sidewalls of the hive and it may be necessary to remove all the frames before she is found on the inner surface of the nucleus hive.
ADOPT A STANDARD PROCEDURE
When looking for the queen it is best to adopt a standard procedure which can as a rule be incorporated into other manipulations such as routine swarm inspections or evaluations of colony development, disease, brood, stores, etc. Quite often the queen can be spotted in the course of those normal inspections, so that it is a good idea to be always prepared to capture her on sight. As my frames in the brood chamber run the warm way i.e. parallel with the entrance, I stand behind the hive and take out the rear frame first. Unless a lot of smoke has been used the queen is rarely on this in the early spring, but it is always safer to thoroughly scan each frame for the presence of the queen as it is removed from the brood chamber. This frame can then be placed in an empty nucleus box, which is covered over with a cloth, for the time being. In order to make more room for inspection it is advisable to remove a second frame from the brood chamber and having scanned it transfer it to the nucleus box in like manner. These back frames are generally empty in the early spring, or they may contain stores only, with some adhering bees. A number of similar frames may be encountered before reaching the broodnest, but as I move inwards I become more cautious and keep a sharper look out for eggs. The practice of beekeeping is very dependent on the acquisition of the simple skill of being able to recognise worker eggs and beginners in beekeeping should learn this skill at the earliest possible opportunity.
BROODNEST SURROUNDED WITH POLLEN
It is customary for the broodnest to be surrounded with freshly harvested pollen at back, front, above, at the sides, and sometimes with Irish dark bees, even below the brood, so that usually a pollen-filled frame is encountered before eggs are found. When this frame of pollen is reached the search for the queen intensifies as she is quite likely to be seen on one of the brood combs and generally on a comb of eggs and young brood. The more bees that cover the comb the harder it is to see her so there is a distinct advantage in doing this in the forenoon of a warm sunny day when most of the work force is out in the fields collecting nectar and pollen. As each frame is lifted I first look at the exposed surface of the adjoining frame and occasionally the queen may be spotted running down the face of the comb. It is essential to develop a mental picture of the queen, especially her distinctive shaped abdomen and long shapely legs which usually have a reddish or orange tinge. Often even very dark queens have what has been termed a sort of golden hue on their undersides, which makes them very conspicuous among their dark progeny - the worker bees. However it is generally more difficult to find dark queens than ones which have some yellow or Italian blood in them. and the fact that dark queens can be quite small makes it still more difficult.
LOOK IN CONCENTRIC CIRCLES
It is a good idea to have a set method of scrutinising each frame as it is lifted out of the brood box. It is always safer to hold the frame directly over the brood nest in case the queen might drop off onto the ground and get lost or trodden on. Holding the frame by the lugs with both hands, let your eyes travel along the top bar from left to right, then down the right side bar, from right to left along the bottom bar, and then up along the left side bar. Following this procedure let the eyes move inwards towards the centre of the brood frame in ever decreasing concentric circles. Turn the frame around and treat the opposite side in like manner and do the same with each brood frame in succession.
THE HIDING QUEEN
There should be little need for a departure from this routine search procedure as one progresses through the broodnest, except to more thoroughly investigate a heavy clump of bees, or if there is a hole in the comb. one may need to check the other side again in case the queen has darted through. With some practice the beekeeper becomes quite adept at this scanning procedure and can move through the brood chamber very quickly. One becomes familiar with the sort of places where a queen might hide, such as depressions in the comb or spaces between the comb and the side bars or the bottom bars. Some queens have a habit of remaining motionless in a comb crevice for quite a while. If the queen has not been found after the first run through the brood box, a decision must be made as to whether to search further or to wait until the next inspection. As a rule it is better to decide in favour of the latter, unless there is some urgent reason for finding the queen immediately, e.g. the imminent danger of losing a swarm, or the urgent necessity of removing or killing the queen. Very often at the next inspection the queen is found without the slightest difficulty.
THE RUNNING QUEEN
If it is essential to find the queen immediately, one can only work backwards through the brood box, again examining each frame in turn. If she is still not found the next procedure is to remove the brood frames into a spare brood box, where they are placed in pairs with a space between each pair. The walls and floor of the old brood box are now thoroughly examined for the presence of the queen. If she is still not found the next step is to lift each pair of brood frames and open them out like a book. If the queen is present, she will usually be found on an inner frame surface where she would naturally have sought refuge from the light. Running queens are the most difficult of all to find, but as long as the queen is confined to one box there should be no great difficulty. When she has the run of two or more boxes it can be much more difficult and where such is the case I usually take off the top box or boxes and place them on the upturned roof with a queen-excluder underneath, and then search the bottom box first. Occasionally the queen may be found on the underside of the crownboard, quilt, or queen-excluder, especially if much smoke is given at the entrance, and many a queen has been lost at this stage. It is a good practice therefore to develop the habit of examining each item carefully as it is removed from the hive, as the loss of a queen, particularly in the early part of the year, is detrimental to the development of the colony. To the uninitiated this may seem like a lot of work which may not be entirely necessary. As the season progresses however one becomes more aware of the numerous advantages of marking and clipping, particularly as regards swarm control or bee improvement. At each subsequent examination work diminishes according as more queens are found in the apiary, and with each succeeding year the workload is decreased further, as only those young queens from the previous year need marking, and quite a large proportion of queens may be found to have marks from years prior to that. This proportion depends on the longevity of the strain of bees.