I usually mark what I want on the top, but sometimes on the side or face. When I worked apiary inspection work, if AFB was found, every part of the exterior of the hive was supposed to be marked AFB-10 or 2010. That way it was obvious which hive was the suspect hive, so the wrong hive wouldn't be burned by the owner.
I have know guys who used bricks to tell themselves what happened in their hives the last time they had been there. they got real pissed off when they found out I had been in their hives doing an inspection. Even though I had spoken w/ them or their spouse and had taken the covers off w/ the brick in it's position and returned it there too.
I use lumber crayons. Early in the year I mark the covers for hive strength(tells me what hives to split from or boost)but after it warms the crayon dissappears quickly so I mark the sides of the boxes. I use red,yellow,and blue. I rotate colors each year so it is easy enough to tell if the writing was for this year, the year before or 2 years ago. Very seldom will I have the crayon stay more than 1 full year. I've thought of using spray paint for marking which hives get requeened(by me or the bees) but another beekeeper I mentioned this to thought that it would make the hives look ugly. I will start doing this(spray paint) because to me it is an easy way to tell how old the queen is(using paint that goes with the queen/year color guide). I also use the plastic push pins on the top of my covers to mark hives that are queenless, were given a queen, may have a virgin, etc so the next time in the yard I can check them to see what they need. If I come back to the yard just to install queens in the QL ones a quick glance tells me which hives need the queens.
Shannon - we use the proper color for the year also. The frames with brood number, and age of queen(from the wing clip) gets written on the back of the brood chamber, and usually lasts a few years, unlike the roofs that is gone in a few months.
Grant, I like that method. We use sidewalk chalk because I want it to be washed off after a rain, We dont leave the yard without taking care of problems, and if its a lingering problem we usually put it in the notebook, and fix the problem asap.
I don't mark hives but I do record hive info on cards made from file folder cut along the seam and then in half. Hive location is numbered left to right first row being 100s second row 200s.
Ran out of room so I had to extend rows to the left so now I have negative numbers (101) (102) :doh:
I suppose the system really depends on how many hives and how far it is to get to them.
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