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Author Topic: Why mark Queens ?  (Read 1736 times)

Offline little john

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Why mark Queens ?
« on: November 16, 2012, 02:50:20 PM »

There are some aspects of beekeeping where it appears that beeks do certain things - simply because that's what other beeks do ...  Hmmm.

On a recent post I noticed the wording "There's no excuse for not marking Queens" or words to that effect.
Having "no excuse" is heavy with implication - but I, for one, can't see any essential need to mark Queens - unless you're a breeder of course, and then it makes complete sense - but for the average backyard hobbyist - what's the point ?

Don't misunderstand me - if you want to, then go ahead - they're your bees after all. But it makes about as much sense to me as a woman painting her toenails: maybe nice to look at (depending upon your point of view), but hardly essential.

The reasons often given are that it makes the Queen easier to find (which is convenient, agreed - but hardly essential), and that it informs the beek whether or not the hive has swarmed, or the Queen superseded.

In the latter two cases, I would simply ask: "so what ?"  Your hive has swarmed, or the Queen has been superseded ... ok, now what are you going to do ?  Painting the Queen a pretty colour may well have brought either of these events to your attention - but it's 'past-tense' information. It's already happened.

One beek I discussed this with some time ago asserted that marking Queens was essential in order to give him control over the genetics in his apiary - until I pointed out that unless he lived in an isolated area (which he didn't), then he had absolutely no control over the drone population, so any sense of control he might be experiencing was unfortunately an illusion - at which point he became silent, so I can't tell you how the thread developed from then on ... 'cause it didn't.

So - can anybody here come up with a really good reason why Queens should be marked - except of course for those beeks who are involved in a very tightly controlled breeding program ?

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Offline 2Sox

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Re: Why mark Queens ?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2012, 03:17:17 PM »
It seems you gave pretty good answers to your own question.

I like marked queens when I'm making splits. Saves me waiting a few days to see eggs in the splits before I introduce a new queen.

I like marked queens when I'm combining a weak colony with a strong one.  Saves the fuss of two queens fighting it out and the disappointment of the weaker one winning.
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Offline iddee

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Re: Why mark Queens ?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2012, 03:18:59 PM »
I do not mark queens, but those living in areas that have AHB and are trying to keep Italians, I can see needing marked queens.
New beeks who want to see their queens and learn to keep bees might also want marked queens.
When making nucs to sell, marked queens are easier to find to confirm she is there when selling the nuc.
There are likely other good reasons for marking.
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Offline D Coates

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Re: Why mark Queens ?
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2012, 06:35:19 PM »
I mark them when I find them but I no longer look for them to mark them, except in nucs.  I do it so I can understand the age of the queen to know if she'll be more disposed to swarming the next year.  If one hive seems to have no mite load but then I find the queen is unmarked I better understand there was a brood cycle disruption.  Also, if I get a local swarm and it's got a marked queen I understand it may have come from my apiary and I may need to watch my hives to ensure I don't end up queenless in one.  I do drone removal (every 3 weeks) and it's obvious something has happened when the drone frame is empty of eggs.

It's not super important.
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Offline RHBee

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Re: Why mark Queens ?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2012, 09:36:22 PM »
Why not mark queens? Sounds like more of a positive thing to do. I know it helps me to know nothing has happened to my original queen.

Offline Robo

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Re: Why mark Queens ?
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2012, 07:36:31 AM »
I guess it depends on your views of emergency queens.  I've lost count of the times we see people struggling to save a colony that has gone queenless in the late fall and a good portion of them can be traced back to emergency or supercedure queens.   Or on the flip side, those that don't see brood and assume the queen is gone only to introduce a new queen that immediately gets killed.   It all comes down to individual management style.

Remember, just because bees CAN make a new queen doesn't mean they have all the necessary resources to produce a quality queen.  Beekeepers tend to believe emergency queens are a natural way of life with feral colonies.  I believe emergency queens happen much less in feral colonies and perhaps there is a high mortality rate of these colonies.  Emergency queens is feral colonies are truly emergencies,  not because they have a beekeeper deciding they want to split.   Just because I could paint a car, doesn't mean it would be a good job (or that I would want to be seen driving it).


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Offline BjornBee

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Re: Why mark Queens ?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2012, 08:46:25 AM »
little john,

I like most of what you said with one exception. You mention a "friend" who thought marking queens allowed him to control his genetics. But that leaves so many possibilities open. Was he a breeder? Of course marking queen could be used to control genetics by knowing if you have the same queen in your yards, drone support yards, and so on. Controlling genetics by solely relying on some idea that marking queens does this alone, may be wrong, but yet can be a vital part of control in regards to keeping track of queens.  

If your friend is a hobbyist, and want to run a certain queen, say some hygienic line from some particular breeder, then also knowing if that queen has left and replaced can also be helpful. While most hobbyists are not going to replace a queen everytime a new queen appears without a mark, there are some that do.

Now don't get me wrong.....I do not mark queens. And I do not promote to others some management item that may or not be harmful. And why some take some hard fast approach of preaching to others some idea that beekeepers should do this or that, such as marking queens, when it makes no impact on their own operation or affects others, is a bit amusing.

Some over the years have suggested that marking queens increases supercedure, and a host of other problems. And it is funny how "pro-Marking" advocates point out some slim angle of the idea that emergency queens, or some other reasoning, yet fail to acknowledge how many folks do just as much damage marking queens, by having them fly away in handling techniques, squeezing the crap out of them in push up cages, smothering queens in globs of paint, and so on. the stories of beekeepers marking queens make some very funny stories, but sad ones at that.

I do not mark my queens due to no single product ever made specifically for this use. I have heard of beekeepers using everything from nail polish to Superglue with painted disks. I called many manufacturers of the paint pens and sought information on the use of their products, and was shocked to find out some of the details. This information can be found here: http://www.bjornapiaries.com/beekramblings200910.html

Read that link if have not done so. Go down to May 2009.

What does the average beekeeper do when having a marked queen? They go into the hive, with the sole goal of seeing that glorious queen. The moment they do, they get a warm fuzzy feeling, the world seems right, and they end their inspection. And many would be better knowing that even if you don't see the queen, you are missing about 95% of what a hive can tell you about health and problems. If you verify that a queen has a good pattern, you find fresh eggs, then how many are going to kill that queen as mentioned earlier for the sake of a missing mark? Not many.

Mark...don't mark.....in the end, it is just the individual beekeeper fooling themselves many times.

Except for the reasoning of control in AHB areas, I see no real reason to promote marking queens on a wide industry scale. Some individuals may find use, but those that push, push across the board. They have taken a stance years ago, made a name for themselves in taking certain stances, and will continue to do so till the last days.
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Offline Jim 134

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Re: Why mark Queens ?
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2012, 09:32:32 AM »
 You can tell the age of the queen and if at is the same queen you put in the hive or not.

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Offline mulesii

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Re: Why mark Queens ?
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2012, 11:00:09 AM »
Bjornbee-great information.  Thank you for taking the time to reply to this post.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Why mark Queens ?
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2012, 02:37:24 PM »
The reason not to mark is it's less work.  The reason to mark is it gives you more information when analyzing the status of a colony.
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