How to Identify a Queen Bee

Опубликовал Admin
27-09-2016, 23:50
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A queen bee is the leader of a bee colony and the mother of most--if not all--of its worker and drone bees. A queen honeybee lives from 3 to 5 years and, in her prime, can lay up to 2,000 eggs in a day. A healthy queen is necessary to the health of the hive; when she gets old or dies, a new queen must be selected, either by the bees themselves or through artificial means. To maintain their hives, beekeepers must know how to identify a queen bee from the others and mark it once it is identified. To identify a queen bee yourself, here's what to look for.


  1. Look for a bee larger than the others in the hive. The easiest way to tell the queen bee apart from other bees is by her size. Queens mated with drones are the largest bees in the hive, both longer and wider than other bees, while queens who have yet to mate, or virgin queens, are smaller than mated queens but larger than either worker bees or drones.
    • The queen bee's larger size, as well as her ability to lay eggs, is due to eating protein-rich royal jelly, which is secreted from glands on the heads of young worker bees and mixed with pollen to form a whitish milk or mush. All bees are fed royal jelly for the first few days after hatching, but only queen bees are fed royal jelly until reaching physical maturity. Royal jelly not only enables queen bees to mature sexually, it also enables them to reach physical maturity sooner (after 16 days as opposed to 21 days for worker bees) and contributes to their extended lifespan.
    • Virgin queens are reared in the event the mated queen becomes old or incapacitated. They are kept separate from the mated queen and each other; if 1 virgin queen encounters another, she will attack and attempt to kill it.
  2. Look for a bee with a pointed abdomen. A queen bee's larger abdomen is noticeably more pointed than the abdomens of either worker or drone bees.
  3. Using a magnifying glass, look for a bee without a barb on its stinger. Worker bees' stingers are barbed; once they sting a target, the barb catches and pulls the stinger from their abdomen, killing the worker. Queen bees, however, have no barbs on their stingers, enabling them to sting a target repeatedly.
  4. Look for a bee that stands with its legs splayed apart. Necessary because of her greater size, keeping her legs splayed apart, like those of the bug in the game of Cootie, enables the queen bee to move quickly through the hive.
  5. Watch the way the other bees act subserviently around her. As long as the queen bee is healthy and productive, worker bees are notably deferential to her, getting out of her way when she moves forward and standing at attention facing her when she stops.


  • Queen bees mate only once with a group of drones, whose sexual organs are barbed, like the worker bees' stingers, and pull away after intercourse, killing the drone. This leaves the queen fertile all her life, enabling her to produce both female worker bees and male drones. A queen that does not mate can still lay eggs, but she can spawn only drones from them.
  • Rich in both protein and B-vitamins, royal jelly is sometimes sold as a dietary supplement. It has been fed to pigs and chickens, increasing their lifespans by up to 30 percent and increasing the hens' ability to lay eggs. It has been known to heal wounds and reportedly can arrest the symptoms of menopause in some women.
  • A queen bee communicates her fitness to lead the colony through pheromones. If the pheromones taper off or change in any way, the workers will rear a new queen and dispose of the original by clustering around her to suffocate her. (This practice is called "balling," and the overall practice of rearing and installing a new queen is called "supersedure.")
  • Once identified, queen bees are tagged with a small swatch of paint so that beekeepers can find them again. Beekeepers use a color code to indicate when the queen was introduced to the colony: blue for years ending in 0 or 5, white or gray for years ending in 1 or 6, yellow for years ending in 2 or 7, red for years ending in 3 or 8, and green for years ending in either a 4 or a 9. Beekeepers may also clip either or both of the left wings of queens introduced in odd-numbered years and either or both of the right wings of queens introduced in even-numbered years.


  • A queen marked by clipping her wings may be seen as damaged by worker bees if the wings are clipped too closely.
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