Catching and Marking Queens
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Nacogdoches, TX, USA
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    Default Catching and Marking Queens

    Howdy! I am curious how most of you catch your queens (by hand or with a queen catcher) or even worry about marking them.

    I used to have the plunger style queen catcher, but several years ago just started just picking them up by a wing then transferring to the other hand by holding her legs on one side. I made a quick video of it. Let me know what you think.

    Ryan

    https://youtu.be/uwXDog8yETs

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Salt Lake City, UT
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    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    Sometimes I catch them by hand, sometimes I use the one handed queen catcher. I think it is much easier to mark them by hand, however in the one handed catcher I can set her aside safe and sound while the paint dries and while I continue with the inspection. So which method I use depends on what I'm doing. If it is a newly mated queen that I'm going to mark and then transfer to a queen cage then I catch by hand. If I just want to set her aside for a bit then I use the one handed catcher.
    Zone 6B

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    1,629

    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    I have never been diagnosed with anything specific, but I have "the shakes." I do not have steady hands. I pluck her off the frame and drop her in the marking tube. I have tried to mark just using my hands, but I cannot stabilize both hands to do it. YouTube is blocked at work. I will watch it tonight.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    My motor skills are no longer what they once were. I use the one-handed queen catcher for queens that are already in a hive. I can mark newly emerged virgins by hand with no problem because they are much easier to catch.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Winston-Salem, NC
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    439

    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    One handed queen catcher, I caught my first one on video at about 6 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAaMVwGTY1M, I'll eventually try it by hand
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
    https://www.youtube.com/c/BackyardBeesNC

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Nacogdoches, TX, USA
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    Default

    Thanks for the information. Good points. I think there is an appropriate time for both methods. I get pretty shaky sometimes too lol.

    JW - do you mark your virgins immediately upon emerging? I have forced myself to wait until they mate and start laying to get in there and mark them.

    Ifixoldhouses - good example of using a queen catcher. Thx.

    Ryan
    Last edited by Nelsonhoneyfarms; 01-21-2020 at 05:27 PM.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Isle of Wight, VA
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    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    I like to use a plastic queen clip, and I mark all of my queens in each hive as soon as they are mated and laying.

  9. #8
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    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    4,579

    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    I have done both but I think I prefer waiting until after they are mated. Seems like a better way of keeping track of them. Snatching them out of a mating nuc or small 5 framer is not bad. It is trying to pick her up on a frame of 1000 bees that gets me jittery.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA USA
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    I got a package of bees to start my bee adventure. I was so proud to have created a queen and caught her on video emerging! Then as I was videotaping myself with one hand catching the queen the other hand holding my phone I dropped the phone and squashed the queen.
    My problem is that the paint don’t stay on the queen. Has anyone appreciated that the queen is UNMarked several months after she is Marked? Did I get bad paint? The paint on the frames from my incompetence is still there. Maybe the bees clean the queen?

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Nacogdoches, TX, USA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Andhors View Post
    I got a package of bees to start my bee adventure. I was so proud to have created a queen and caught her on video emerging! Then as I was videotaping myself with one hand catching the queen the other hand holding my phone I dropped the phone and squashed the queen.
    My problem is that the paint don’t stay on the queen. Has anyone appreciated that the queen is UNMarked several months after she is Marked? Did I get bad paint? The paint on the frames from my incompetence is still there. Maybe the bees clean the queen?
    Wow, what a heartbreaking story! Happens to the best of us.

    I would think it was from one of two reasons. Either the paint didn’t have a chance to fully dry before she was released back into the hive, or a low quality paint was used. Give her a minute or so before you release her back into the hive. If it is not fully dry, her bees will be able to groom it right off of her.

    I’ve had very good luck with paint pens from Mann Lake. Have several queens with dots from two years ago. The Mann Lake pens are pricey, but they are good quality.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    701

    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Andhors View Post
    Maybe the bees clean the queen?
    the workers do clean up the queen. I have seen paint still there after about a year, so it may be the paint that you are using. I have been carefully using a posca marker and making sure I write most of the paint out of the tip before marking the queen

  13. #12
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    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    8,192

    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    I have a few short videos on catching, marking, and caging queens. For those using marking tubes and queen clips...learn to handle your queens with your fingers. Easier and safer than plastic contraptions. As my mom used to say when we had chicken for supper. "God made fingers before forks".

    https://youtu.be/2EMhmfvHKFg
    https://youtu.be/A2tSkW9YuHY
    https://youtu.be/4ybeZMBaC0Q

  14. #13
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    May 2019
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    Nacogdoches, TX, USA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I have a few short videos on catching, marking, and caging queens. For those using marking tubes and queen clips...learn to handle your queens with your fingers. Easier and safer than plastic contraptions. As my mom used to say when we had chicken for supper. "God made fingers before forks".
    Thanks Michael. Instead of the legs, next time I’m going to try the thorax like you did there. I just subbed you on YouTube by the way!
    Last edited by Nelsonhoneyfarms; 01-22-2020 at 06:29 AM.

  15. #14
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    Feb 2015
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    Salt Lake City, UT
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    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Nelsonhoneyfarms View Post
    do you mark your virgins immediately upon emerging? I have forced myself to wait until they mate and start laying to get in there and mark them.
    I wait until they are laying and I transfer them out of the mating nuc. Richard Noel has a video where he is marking them as soon as they emerge in the incubator and he says its never been a problem as long as you don't get any paint where it shouldn't be. I'm not 100% positive that I won't screw up, so I wait. Once she is mated and laying she is also a lot easier to find.
    Zone 6B

  16. #15
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    Feb 2015
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    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by ifixoldhouses View Post
    One handed queen catcher, I caught my first one on video at about 6 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAaMVwGTY1M, I'll eventually try it by hand
    Some tips on using the one handed queen catcher. Open the gate all the way and hold the queen catcher so the face is parallel to the comb. Instead of scoping the queen in, just set the queen catcher down on the comb with the opening over the queen. If you scoop there is a chance that you can hurt the queen, catch a leg, or something else. One the face is against the comb then slowly push the gate closed, giving her time to step up onto it. After the gate is closed lift the catcher up form the comb. Push the plunger up leaving about 1/2" to 3/4" of space (12-18mm). Then set it on its side on top of the frames for a minute. Any worker bees you caught should leave through the queen excluder slots in the gate, crowding them with the plunger encourages them to leave, and if the catcher is resting on the frame tops they'll be happy to abandon the catcher and run back down into the hive. After all the worker bees have exited then push the plunger up to gently trap the queen. Immediately after you mark her pull the plunger down to make room while the paint dries. This video shows what I am describing: https://youtu.be/leOTu5WEalQ?t=84 I set the queen catcher on its side back on top of the frames (preferably shaded) and leave it there for a few minutes. Then I open the gate and wait for her to walk out. If you try and shake her out she might take flight while dropping.


    Posca pens: I find it helpful to prime the pen by pressing it against a towel or a piece of wood or something else that will blot the paint. Blot any excess paint off the tip, then mark. It is a good idea to blot whatever you are using, whether it is a Posca pen, a nail polish brush, or a blade of grass.
    Last edited by JConnolly; 01-22-2020 at 03:14 PM.
    Zone 6B

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Boston, MA
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    10

    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by JConnolly View Post
    slowly push the gate closed
    Emphasis on the Slowly part. My first time I decapitated the queen with that gate by accident. Much sadness..

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roy, Wa
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    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    Although holding them by the thorax is the 'norm', I like catching by wings and holding by the legs as you stated.
    You have to get at least two if not all three legs so they don't twist around, but when you learn how to gently straighten the legs before putting just the right amount of light pressure on them, they sit quietly and I think you can see / evaluate the entire queen much better than thorax confinement.
    I've had people from Europe scold me for handling them this way, but I've never done any harm and have held thousands of queens and virgins straight out of the cell & incubator. I am especially careful with virgins wings though because don't want to impede mating flights, I've never harmed them in any way.
    The mated queens are pretty quiet, virgins can be squirmy and I assume more tender so you have to be careful, but you get the hang of it in no time.

    14021570_1217208118310730_4817558075473738049_n.jpg

    P5030644.jpg

    P5111000.jpg

    P6180085.jpg

    P8071063.jpg
    This last pic can show you how you can get a nice queen out of a dink cell, as long as they were well fed.

    I still use Uniposka pens, I get a full set on Amazon with many different colors. Ive never had one dry up on me, but you need to wipe the tip a couple times a season to keep it clean. Hold it upside down in my tool belt.
    Lauri Miller.
    Carniolan Hybrids. Glenn, Latshaw & Wild lines.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    woodland, wa usa
    Posts
    73

    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    My markers are plunge point acrylic paint pens called "Painters" and sold singly (+-$2) at Walmart
    or in a 5 pack (+-$9). The 5 pack holds all the queen colors except yellow, and instead has black.
    They have a "fine" tip (My strong recommendation when using Painters.) so allows a good paint load for marking that is generally not too much if ya don't pre-load an excessive amount.

    I did indeed pre-load waaay toooo much "once" with a broader tipped Painter. I mark through a ringed 1/8" screen with handle queen marking tool. When I marked/splooshed this queenie, it wound up all over her back and flowed over her wings. Thankfully them bees were masters at cleaning her wings up, and she actually flew off the following year in that swarm.

    Moral of the story: Do not think all is lost when you sploosh a queen. And do not beat yourself up for it.
    It is easy to pre-load way too much paint. Just refrain from doing it. Test loading and marking on a piece of paper, hive bodies, or tele cover. Don't practice on queenie. Perfect it before hand. Reminder: The painter "fine" point works extremely well and allows for a double or triple dot, or adding more to another part of her black dot.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA USA
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    Lauri, you have tiny hands or ginormous queens. Very nice. Where did you get the labels? They don’t have them at Mann lake.

    BTW I actually read the label on my Chinese “queen marking” pen that wears off quickly. “Dry erase!” What’s the saying about life being harder if you’re stupid?

  21. #20
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    5,243

    Default Re: Catching and Marking Queens

    Probably would not happen often but you can manage to squish a queen if she is trying hard to escape through one of the slots in the flex slide as you pull it back. If there are quite a few workers in with her is often not easy to see exactly where she is.

    That really makes you hate yourself but I did not see that one coming.
    Frank

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