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How to find the queen in the hive in order to mark her

The search for the queen is sometimes difficult, especially in well populated hives. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you find it.

Create the ideal conditions

  • Do the search when the foragers are in flight, so on a sunny day and when the honeydew is in progress. Thus, there are fewer bees in the hive and the foragers who are the most aggressive have left.
  • Check if there is a queen. It may sound like the obvious, but looking for a queen in an orphan hive is even more difficult than looking for a needle in a haystack. So see if there are any eggs.
  • Work with as little smoke as possible. Some queens hide when you use the smoker.
  • Work methodically. Start at one side of the beehive and look at each frame. Before putting the frame back into the hive, check to see if the queen is at the bottom of the hive. Sometimes she wanders around there.

How to proceed

  1. Take the first frame with both hands, look at one side, then the second and if you can't find the queen, go back to the first side.
  2. A little advice: always work with your back to the sun.
  3. Then place this frame outside the hive or better in a hive provided for this purpose.
  4. As you examine the frame, direct your gaze to the edges in a circular motion. Many queens run away from the light and try to get to the other side. Then look at the center.
  5. A queen is noticed by her slower, more majestic gait than the other bees. It is also larger and often red in color although some are quite black.
  6. Before putting the frame back in the hive, look at the bottom sometimes the queen moves there.
  7. Then take the next frame and so on to the other edge of the hive.
  8. The queen is most often found on a freshly laid frame but this is not a hard and fast rule.
  9. When you arrive at the last frame and if you have not found the queen, either you start again in the other direction, or you put the first frame taken from the bank. In the latter case, start over on another day.

If you can't find the queen

Here are the possibilities:
  • There is no queen
  • There is a virgin queen still small and usually very elusive
  • The queen fell to the ground
  • The queen has flown away.
  • The queen is small and passes in the supers through the queen grid.
If you cannot find the queen, introduce into the hive a frame of uncapped brood from another hive whose bees you have shaken. After ten minutes you are very likely to find the queen on this frame.