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Queen marking with tube/plunger question

8501 Views 33 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  BeeCurious
When I have the time I'm going to practice marking some drones, but I have a concern about marking queens.

My first observation is that the foam pad on the plunger is very firm. I may apply a less dense foam on top of the original one.

When people use these are they supposed to simply hold onto the plunger with the weight of tube being supported by the queens body?

The tube is made out of fairly thick plastic, and in my inexperienced mind, it's heavy in relation to an insect.

Perhaps queens are more resilient than I believe they are. If not, I think I can make a much more queen-friendly marking tube from some kind of tube that I'll find in the candy section at the CVS.
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Slowly press it down until she cannot move. I have marked about 10 queens this way and all of them are doing fine.

I watched a professional queen producer use the same product with no troubles. Bought one myself and have used it with no problems. Just lightly pin the queen against the top netting, mark her and let the plunger down an inch or two. Let her sit inside the tube for a minute or so to let the mark dry. Then tip the tube over onto the hive so that the queen drops straight down into the hive.
If I can do it, anyone can.
Here is a video by Maine Beekeeper:

I understand how the tube is used... My question is: Can it be safely used safely by anyone who buys one. I have my doubts. The tube of mine weighs 24.3 grams.

Is 24 grams a lot of weight on top of a queen?
No, I don't think that you want the weight of the tube resting on your queen. It might be fine, but it didn't occur to me that it would be a good idea when I have used the device. It didn't seem that hard to hold the tube with two fingers and the stick with two fingers on the same hand and press lightly against the queen.
No, I don't think that you want the weight of the tube resting on your queen.
This is my point: 24 grams / 0.857 oz. may be an unhealthy weight for a queen.

... and press lightly against the queen.
"pressing lightly" will depend on ones judgement. For someone new to messing about with bees, I think there could be problems.

I believe "queen marking tubes" can be more queen friendly and require less beekeeper judgement to use them.

The foam on the plunger begins to compress at approx. 1 oz of pressure while pressing down on a Tylenol tablet to simulate a queen.

I have some old computer boards that were shipped with some very soft foam, I'll see how it compares.

I'm going to tinker with this and see if I can make something with a lighter tube and softer foam.
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If you place the plunger stick between your fingers while holding the tube with your thumb and the remaining fingers, the "weight" of the tube shouldn't be resting on the queen but actually on your hand. Any queen damage is going to be the result of my own fault and not the product.

Honestly, I think you may be making a mountain out of a molehill. People that are WAY smarter and have WAY more years invested in beekeeping designed these with the health of the queen and the ease of use in mind. If they were so "damaging" to the queens, they wouldn't still be on the market.
Any queen damage is going to be the result of my own fault and not the product.
It's possible that the device could be virtually "fault-free"; with the user holding just the plunger.

I have good control holding the tube with three fingers, with the plunger resting on my palm.

I'm not making a mountain out of a molehill; I'm simply sharing some observations that were obvious to me.
Thats why we are here BeeCurious, feel free to exspress your mind without any hesitation, there could possibly be a better way to mark!! I do know that some of them designs on the market didnt take a rocket scientist to figure them out.. Umm thats my oppinion!!!... :)
First, there is no such thing as a "fault-free" device or tool. I demonstrated that to my father years ago, and my grandchildren demonstrated that to me during their last visit. :lpf:

After inserting the queen into the tube, the tube is held in one hand, the plunger slowly advanced with the other, until the queen is very lightly pinned at the top of the tube. Then the friction of the foam and plunger holds it in place, and you have a free hand to work with, while the other hand holds the tube. The weight of the tube is not supported by the queen. To me, can't get any easier than that.

And if a beek damages a queen? Well, some of us have steeper learning curves than others... And no, I won't tell you how many queens I lost my first year trying to get the attendants out of the queen shipping cages. :(
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It's possible that the device could be virtually "fault-free";
Is how I put it.

One mans learning curve is another's fun and interesting experience.

Take removing attendants for example. :)
here's a You Tube video with a good demonstration on how to use the plunger and tube:

Yeah Beecurious, I would much rather it had been more fun and interesting, and much less expensive! :doh:
I chickened-out and bought a queen muff. The darn attendants would walk out and go back in!!! Then I remembered reading something about blowing lightly on the cage. That cleared the cage real fast.


Listen carefully at the very beginning of the video. "Maine Beekeeper" calls the device "A Queen Crusher Tube" :D
BeeCurious, when I saw those queen muffs advertised this year, I bought one too! :D
Will use it for the first time this weekend.
Yep, I use the queen muff as well.

I've also noticed how my older tubes have a soft netting. The newer tubes have a hard, molded plastic grid. I like my older tubes.

Jackson, MO
I like the queen marking tube and have never actually "crushed" a queen in one - though that certainly would be possible.
I prefer the marking tube to free holding the queen as can leave the queen in the tube for a few minutes and allow the paint to dry. I just set the tube with the queen aside, finish my inspection, put everything back together and then put the queen back in. If you are holding her you have to stay holding her until the paint dries (or transfer her to some sort of cage or grabber, so if you are doing that why not just use the tube.)
As far as softness of the sponge, I don't worry about that. You can see in the video I hold the tube and plunger both just fine with one hand.
The thing I don't like about a couple of the marking tubes I have is plungers that are too loose and will fall out (with the queen) a nicely fit plunger is easy to hold tube and plunger with one hand.

Best to you all and your bees,
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Erin Forbes, EAS Master Beekeeper

:thumbsup:Thank you for your video and explanation on how to mark the queen.
I've also noticed how my older tubes have a soft netting. The newer tubes have a hard, molded plastic grid. I like my older tubes.
I like my new marking tube (with netting) so far... :)

My homemade marking tube is advancing well. The tube weighs 8.7 grams as opposed to 24.3 grams for the purchased device, and I have invested a total of $0.27
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