Ben harden method

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maddydog 

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Hmmm, filed in the 'too good to be true' section.
Normally I use a queenless cell starter for my grafts but thought I'd try Mr harden's method for a change. Basically an utter failure despite both following it religiously and making subtle adjustments to each cycle.
Out of 20 grafts my normal range of 'takes' is 14-18 so to only achieve 0-4 on 6 occasions was disconcerting.
Having given up and reverted back to a queenless starter I've had two 13's and an 18 so I still appear to have reasonable eyesight and a steady hand.
 

drdrday 

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Hmmm, filed in the 'too good to be true' section.
I had my first ever attempt at queen rearing this month. Settled on the Ben Harden method as I only have 3 hives and wanted to keep them together and producing and just rear a couple of bonus queens.

I did 10 grafts, got 7 accepted, and they're now sealed and the best are going into mating hives either today or tomorrow.
As you said, it seemed 'too good to be true' to me too when reading about it, but so far it's been working great.

The hive I used was on double brood and four supers. I just added a QE on top of the double brood, and put a third brood box on top with two frames of pollen, and one frame of young larvae, and my queen rearing frame, covered in honey, between them. The rest of the box was filled with insulated dummy boards. Did my 10 grafts the next day, and got 7 accepted, all of which are now sealed. I was really pleased with that for my first attempt and found it ridiculously easy.

I guess it just depends on the colony, and maybe I've been really lucky with mine. Be interesting to see how it works out for me next year.
 

maddydog 

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Congratulations on your success 👍 Out of interest, how old is the queen?
 

deemann1 

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I have been using the ben harden method all season on two cell builders,
I'm very happy with this method getting average of 15 - 17 queens raised out of 20 each hit
 

Hebeegeebee 

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I would usually demaree with 2 or 3 supers between the queen (below) and most of the brood in the top box to get a good level of separation. Sometimes bees don't get it and fail to raise queencells (especially early in the season). But if a queenless colony is around at the right time, then it's an easy job to get queens raised in them. It would make sense that an old queen would have less 'queen substance' than a young'un so the process might work better with an old girl in the hive or that swarm queen you captured last year that you didn't get around to replacing that is probably going to fly at the first hint of spring rather than any non-swarmy bees you use yourself.
 

Apiarisnt 

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I have tried and failed with the Ben Harden method, last year with grafts, this year with punched cells. Some of the latter the girls have been happy to feed and grow and seal as hanging down worker cell, but no inclination to make them into queencells.

Apart form my general incompetnence, I suspect that one of my mistakes had been to attemp to do this over my strongest colony with my most prolific queen. Perhaps it would have been more sensibel to try it with a lesser colony where the queen substance is less pervasive ( even through a couple of supers)
 

drdrday 

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Apart form my general incompetnence, I suspect that one of my mistakes had been to attemp to do this over my strongest colony with my most prolific queen. Perhaps it would have been more sensibel to try it with a lesser colony where the queen substance is less pervasive ( even through a couple of supers)
I used my strongest colony with a very prolific queen, primarily because that was my best queen and so the one I wanted to rear from. She's a 2020 queen so neither particularly old or young.

Just out of curiosity, do people think it makes a difference whether the grafted eggs came from another colony? Might they be more readily accepted if they're (somehow) recognised as belonging to the colony they're in?
 

maddydog 

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I used my strongest colony with a very prolific queen, primarily because that was my best queen and so the one I wanted to rear from. She's a 2020 queen so neither particularly old or young.

Just out of curiosity, do people think it makes a difference whether the grafted eggs came from another colony? Might they be more readily accepted if they're (somehow) recognised as belonging to the colony they're in?
I did the same as you - chose 2 strong colonies both with 2020 queens. I even placed a crown board for 48hrs between the boxes after grafting.
 

drdrday 

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I even placed a crown board for 48hrs between the boxes after grafting.
I wonder whether that might have been the issue. A CB in the way may have slowed down traffic around the grafts and they therefore just didn't get the early attention they needed. I appreciate why you did it, to reduce queen pheromone, but I think the whole point of the Ben Harden method is that that just isn't necessary - decent queen cells will be built in a perfectly queen right colony.
 

maddydog 

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I wonder whether that might have been the issue. A CB in the way may have slowed down traffic around the grafts and they therefore just didn't get the early attention they needed. I appreciate why you did it, to reduce queen pheromone, but I think the whole point of the Ben Harden method is that that just isn't necessary - decent queen cells will be built in a perfectly queen right colony.
Using the crown board was one of my 'tweaks' as I suspected queen pheromone may be an issue after the first 3 failures. Didn't make any difference though 😂
 

Olbe 

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I have used queenright starters for about 15 years and have success rates around 95% in the spring, but often only around 40% when doing autumn grafts.
we graft 32 cells per colony and regularly harvest 30 good looking cells. love this method for spring cells.
 

drdrday 

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Using the crown board was one of my 'tweaks' as I suspected queen pheromone may be an issue after the first 3 failures. Didn't make any difference though 😂
Just goes to show you can't predict anything in beekeeping! I'll probably have an absolute failure next time I try it. Probably just beginner's luck 😉
 

madasafish 

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I have tried it and got 60% success in early June. Now it's dismal 2 or 3 out of 13.

Maybe my grafting? Nicot results the same..

Colony is a lang jumbo with red queen (2018) but very strong - 4 supers.
 

Hebeegeebee 

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To eliminate the queen pheromone entirely, you can use a cloake baord until the cells have been started.
 

Olbe 

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I find that shortly after summer solstice it starts getting harder and harder to get successful "takes" in queenright starters,
maybe one of you in the northern half of the world could try grafting into a queenright stater as well as a queenless starter and see if there is a marked difference in success rates between both colonies
 

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