Drone Bee Drag Queen

Marked Drone bee

Oops – sadly the focus was on my sausage fingers not Derek

After one hot week of sunshine (hey it’s the UK – anything over 22 degrees is hot ok!), the weather turned a little too cold for our bees at the North London Beekeepers Apiary on Sunday which meant we couldn’t open the hives for long.

There was plenty of other housekeeping to be done. As other beekeepers kept themselves busy cleaning frames and tidying up, us beginners made some sugar syrup to feed the bees in the observation glass that is housed in the North London Beekeepers special shed, and practised marking queen bees.

The Queen bee is often marked with a coloured felt pen on her back so she can easily be spotted in a 70,000 strong hive. This can be a tricky task as trying to pin her down to restrict her movement without squishing her is one thing, then marking her in the right place is another as getting the marker on her wings or body will make the other bees think she is damaged which is definitely… not cool.

So understandably, they don’t let any old sneezing idiot with hayfever and a shaky hand have a go. They will however allow you to practise on a Drone bee as they are slightly larger than Worker bees and don’t do any work. They also don’t sting which is a huge bonus.

We managed to get the hives open long enough to pop a few in a bucket so we could get some practise in.

The bees at North London Beekeepers are also lovely and calm so a little reasoning and good manners meant my drone happily wondered onto the practice polystyrene board and let me pin him down without accidentally spiking him. I marked him as best as I could as a first timer and I think Derek here looks wonderful. How he’s going to explain this back at the hive though, I have no idea.

Guess they’ll be known as drag queens!

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6 comments

  1. I’ve yet to try marking a bee. The hives owned by the bee club I belong to have marked most of their queens, but also drag queens so sometimes newbies get all excited when they see a queen but then have to be told she’s a he 🙂

    • Yes Laura – I’m one of those excited newbies! I highly recommend having a go, so relaxing. Give me a bucket full of drones and marker pen any day – who needs meditation…

  2. The green really brings out Derek’s eyes. They look huge.

    We are still challenged to see a queen, let alone try to catch her safely.

    • I think they’ll all be saying that to Derek in the hive!

      Yeah, I can’t for the life of me spot a queen whether she is marked or not…! Apparently she moves differently to the others too but I’m mesmerised at all of it!

      • I am getting pretty good at spotting queen bees. It’s not about how she moves, it’s about her colour. She’s not striped, her bum is a nice golden colour – a long stretch without any black isn’t common in a mass of bees. Look at the last photo on this page and you can see what I mean: http://laurarittenhouse.wordpress.com/my-honeybees/

        Now that I search for colour not size or shape I find her much easier to spot.

      • Your pics are so good. Your queen does look lovely and golden. I think our bees are darker but can’t be sure. A few are still quite young. I will definitely look for a super golden one next time and see if that helps. It’s always more obvious once someone else spots the queen and points it out to me!

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