As the leader of the colony, the Queen Bee plays a pivotal role not just for its subordinates but for the very health of its hive. Without a healthy Queen Bee, a colony will fail unless a new queen is not found. We all know and understand the importance that bees play to our planet, our ecosystem, and our long-term ecological health. Whether you are an environmentalist or a bee enthusiast, there is always something to learn from these wonderful creatures.
Today’s discussion will be focused on one single point: how to properly identify a queen bee to assess the health of a hive.
Do a Visual Inspection
While we don’t often advocate sticking our faces up next to a hive, Queen Bees can be visually located if you know what signs to look for. Queen Bees display some key physical traits that a savvy and trained eye will be able to identify.
Here are a few of the most common physical traits that suggest you are looking at the Queen Bee.
- Body Size – The Queen Bee is almost always going to be the largest bee in the entire colony. Drones can occasionally grow larger than their Queen, but that isn’t very common. In the event that two large bees are competing for size, the narrower body will likely belong to the Queen.
- Abdominal Shape – When you look at the bottom of a bee’s abdomen, which is the lowest part of the creature’s body, you’ll find the stinger. Honeybees will possess blunted abdomens while Queens will display a sharper, pointed shape.
- Splayed Legs – A close visual inspection of the hind legs on a bee will reveal some key insights into what you are looking at. The drone and worker bees of a colony will have legs beneath their bodies, hidden away. Queen Bees showcase their legs by splaying them to the sides.
- Unique Stinger – Finally, you can take a closer look at the stinger on a bee to differentiate between the Queen and its workers. A Queen’s stinger will be presented as smooth and without barbs.
Watch For Behavioral Traits
While it may be hard to differentiate between bees at a glance, a closer look at their behaviors may prove enlightening. While Queen Bees and Worker/Drone Bees may seem similar without probing too deeply, there are a few unique traits that prove their differences.
- Area Avoidance – Did you know that worker bees and drone bees would literally step aside for their Queen? When the queen is on the move, everyone else gets out of the way. If you see bees clearing the area for a slightly larger bee to stride through, you have your answer!
- Spot the Lazy Bee – Okay, the Queen Bee isn’t lazy but she may look that way in a sea of drones! The Queen Bee gets the lucky job of sitting around while her workers take care of everything else. If you see a large bee that is just relaxing in the midst of the hive, you’ve likely found the Queen.
- Fed By Drones – Another fantastic way to identify the Queen Bee is by looking at how the other bees treat her. What we mean by this is simple. If you notice one bee being approached by the rest of the hive, it’s likely the Queen is being fed. Anytime that you see worker bees providing food to another bee, they could be interacting with the queen.
Identify and Mark Your Queen
If you are a bee enthusiast or are tending to your own colonies, you might want to mark your Queen Bee for easy visualization at later times.
- Pick Your Acrylic Paint – First and foremost, you will need to pick the color that you are using. Acrylic-based paints are ideal for marking your Queen Bee but some beekeepers prefer to use model paint or paint pens.
- Pick Your Color – Beekeepers choose specific colors to track their bees. White is ideal for Queens marked in years ending in 1 or 6. Yellow is for years ending in 2 or 7. Red is for years ending in 3 or 8. Green is for years ending in 4 or 9. Blue is for years ending in 5 or 0. Pretty simple, right?
- Prep Your Supplies – Bees don’t love being handled, so prepare your supplies before embarking on your quest. Have your paint pen dipped and ready nearby.
- Gently Pick Up the Queen – Using your thumb and forefinger, gently lift the queen by her thorax. If the Queen struggles, don’t fight it – you might end up crushing her.
- Hold Her Above the Hive – In case you have to drop the queen, you want her to land in the hive. Hold the Queen above the hive the entire time.
- Dot Her Thorax – Place a small dab of paint on her thorax, between the Queen’s front legs. That’s it, you are done!
If you fear that you have a bee infestation or would like to learn more about Queen Bees, contact the team at Buzz Tech AZ Professional Bee Removal!