Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 3 of 3 Posts

Premium Member
3,097 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Could a queen be marked in her shipping cage (my guess is no) or, lacking that, can a cage be opened, the queen marked, and returned to the cage for hiving a package? My package supplier doesn't offer marking, and it would ease my worried mind as they say.

Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
54,108 Posts
No, you can't mark her in the shipping cage.

Yes. But what I'd do is just install them and then start practicing catchng and marking drones (with some color other than this year's color which is blue) and when you have the hang of it catch her. She will be fairly easy to find in a newly hived package compared to an established hive.

Or you could buy a queen marking tube, run the queen into that and mark her and direct relase her. I usually direct release queens in packages anyway. Getting her back in the cage is one of those things you should practice with drones again before attempting it with a queen.

3,414 Posts
Sure, you can remove the queen, mark her, and
return her to the cage, no problem.

Here's an easy method, almost foolproof.
The "trick" you exploit over and over is
that bees are attracted to light. You need
never touch the queen.

Assuming you know how to mark a queen properly,
I'm going to assume that you have the most
commonly used "3-hole" style of queen cage,
like this one:
One end has a cork with a candy plug below it,
and one end has a cork with no candy plug.
Take a small penknife, and pry out the cork without the candy plug.

Pick a small room with one window. If you use
a bathroom, the toilet lid should be closed!

The window is so if the queen escapes, you have
a place for the queen to fly where you can catch her again.

Hold the cage in your hand, screen towards you,
with your thumb ready to close over the hole.
In your other hand, you should have a queen
marking tube, like this one:
or have a steady hand ready to grasp the queen
in the time-honored manner (very hard to describe
in words, but it takes only a minute to learn
from someone who knows how). Me, I like the tube,
as it allows me to work faster, and with less
risk to the queen.

OK, so you have attendants, and you have a queen.
Hold the hole towards a bright light source, and
wait a bit. If an attendant comes out the hole,
let it go. (You really want to remove the
attendants anyway if you are installing the queen
the same day, as they are the primary cause of
hostility towards the queen, as documented in
work by Wyatt Mangum.) If you can't install the
queen today, put your thumb over the hole, and
the bee will go back to the cage. You can't
get stung, as you are putting your thumb over
the bees head, and it can't turn around. It
has to back out.

If the queen starts up towards the hole, put
the clear plastic tube part of the queen marking
tube over the hole. The queen will enter the
tube. If you are holding tube correctly, the
queen will go to the far end of the tube. If not,
close your hand over the end of the tube with
the opening, to darken that end of the tube.

Now, put down the cage (opening end down if you
want to keep the attendants in there), grab the
plunger of the queen marking tube, and insert
it into the tube. Now you are ready to mark
the queen per the tube instructions.

When done, you have to get the queen back into
the cage. For this, remove the plunger, slide
the tube over the cage hole, and hold the two in
one hand. Now wrap or drape some black cloth
over the tube, and expose the cage screen to
a bright light source. The queen will re-enter
the cage without any further prompting.

Now, this is nowhere near as quick as simply
handling the queen with your fingers, as done
by experienced queen wranglers, but if you
hesitate to touch that expensive queen, this
approach is 100% contact-free.

...and if the candy all is gone, remove the
cork from THAT end, go through the process, and
shove a mini-marshmallow in as "candy" before
you replace the cork.

What, you DON'T keep a bag of mini-marshmallows
in the bathroom medicine chest?

Well, now you do.
1 - 3 of 3 Posts