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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I haven't seen my queen in probably almost 2 months, and when I saw her today, she was visibly darker. I compared the first photo I took of her to the video I happen to take today, and it's obvious. Never seen a queen cell, so I'm pretty darn sure they didn't supercede her. . . Does this happen if, by chance, she was a virgin soon before they swarmed?
 

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Honey bees only have one exoskeleton, which serves them for their entire adult lives. They do not grow new outer shells, as some other insects do. Workers aren't usually around for very long, but queens often are.

I have many very lightly colored, Cordovan Italian queens. Those which I select for breeding, are kept around for a year or more. I do notice that these queens gradually darken as they age. Those that are a year or more old, are a dark leather color, though when they were very young, they were a very light tan color. I would assume that this happens to all queens, but is just less noticeable with darker queens, such as Caucasian or Carniolan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
would a couple of months really seem to be enough to show a difference? I should go back in next inspection and take a proper photo of her to compare :)
 

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It would. I see noticeable darkening in less time.

With Cordovan Italian queens, most become a little darker, each month, until they are twelve months old. After that, I haven't noticed any additional darkening, though it probably happens, just not too obvious by then.
 

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The other thing to remember is that chitin is not entirely opaque and that light does go through it. Thus even if the exoskeleton is the same, the underlying tissue may be different and that can impact the color of the bee. I've noticed my queens get darker and lighter over the course of a week. It may have something to do with feeding, laying activity, age, time of year, etc.
 
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