A queen honeybee with a green dot on her back

Photo provided by Steve Burt and used under Creative Commons license.

Did you know that many queen bees are painted soon after emerging from their queen cells? There are two main reasons that breeders paint their queens:

The first reason queens are painted is because it allows beekeepers to quickly and easily find their queens on frames during hive inspections. More importantly however, the paint colour indicates the bee’s age. A typical lifespan for a queen bee is 2-5 years, so 5 colours were chosen as a standard and are cycled every 5 years.

For example, a queen bee born in 2012 is painted with a small yellow dot. Those born in 2011 were painted with a small white dot. Here’s a chart that can help you determine what year your queen was born:

Years that end with: Queen colour:
1 or 6 White
2 or 7 Yellow
3 or 8 Red
4 or 9 Green
5 or 0 Blue