Colour-marking code

An International Colour Code system exists within the beekeeping industry to indicate the year the queen was introduced and facilitates recognition of queen age (Table 3). Since queens do not live more than 5 years, the colour coding starts over in the sixth year (Table 3).

Marking queens with a dot of paint is cost-effective and easy to use and thus practical in beekeeping. While Opalith disks, enabling individual identification of bees (Figs. 2 and 3), have been widely used in research and breeding where it is essential to know the pedigree / history of the queens and colonies.

Table 3. International colour code used for marking queens.

International queen marking colour code:


for years ending in:


1 or 6


2 or 7


    3 or 8


4 or 9


5 or 0