I do use a lot of smoke. I'll try using less and see if that helps. Does the queen generally run to the bottom of the frames when smoke is used?
Yes, and off the bottom into the base of the hive. When the bee inspector came to see my bees, he used literally 2 puffs at the enternace, and that was if it for the entire inspection. 2 small puffs. That was the first time I'd seen her, it may have helped I was slightly further away. Out of interest, I went to a lecture by a local professional beekeeper, who has teached evening classes for 30 years, and he mentioned that most queens are superseeded more often than you think, but that a young queen painted, does last a long time, and he's seen his beginner students paint her head, eyes, legs, wings and despite this she has been accepted by the colony and given long service. So perhaps we worry about marking them too much. (He remarked they basically paint anywhere except the "right" place, and not only that tend to smear it over her wings as well. All queens have been fine.