Today I marked my first queen honey bee. Yesterday, my daughter and I practiced on a drone at our dinner table. The test went well and I was ready to mark a Queen Bee.
The Queen Bee I was going to mark was from a hive that I thought was queenless, and had purchased a new queen for. However, there was a queen cell that I apparently missed that had actually hatched. Just wish I had seen her before I paid $25 for a new queen.
The hive that I added the surprise queen was added to a failing hive that had absconded and was being occupied by about 50 workers. I was hoping that these bees would care for this queen until I was able to find the resources to boost the hive.
The Queen was easy to find in the small cluster of bees. She did not appear to have laid any eggs. Inspection of the comb showed that the workers had filled all the cells with a bit of honey or pollen. This condition left her no room to lay eggs. The bees had been queenless for some time and had a laying worker situation going on when I put her in this hive. There were very few worker cells that had not been filled with something, and a good number of drone cells with 3 or more eggs in them. I really did not expect her to even be alive at this point, I was happy to see that she was alive. Observing her on the comb showed she was looking for a place to lay eggs and she probably needed a place to lay soon. She was not interested in the drone comb that now had dried out eggs in them. A queen will not lay an egg in a dirty cell.
She was easy to pick up and place into the marking tube. Carefully pushing her up with the plunger until she was immobilized with her thorax exposed for marking, I painted a small white dot on her. I kept her there for a minute or two until the paint dried. Placing her back into the hive, the workers noticed that she had been painted and tried to remove the paint. This lasted for a few minutes and they eventually gave up trying to remove the paint.
I added a frame of drawn comb and a comb of emerging brood from another hive. I hope this will give this hive a boost to build up enough before winter. However, time is running out and they may not make it. I am planning on feeding this hive heavily over the next couple of months.