Cell Punch System

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House Bee
Feb 13, 2009
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Evening all,

I have been looking into the cell punch system, and what is required for it. It seems a straightforward enough method for somebody wanting to produce a few queens, and particularly those who have no desire (or the good eyesight required) for grafting.

I am attempting to make a version of the parts needed, based on the sketch on Dave Cushman's website http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/cellpunch.html , but adapting it to suit a few simple hand tools and (probably) plumbing/diy materials rather than a full engineering workshop and stores. Could anybody tell me what the purpose of the nosecap is on the link?

Has anybody used this method under a different guise? I have heard somewhere of using a bullet case as a punch- .243 or .270 wouldn't be massively different in size to the 10mm or 12mm copper tube that I was going to use.

Thoughts anyone...
I can only think it is a mod so that you can see the cell as you punch it.

FWIW, take as young a larvae as you can. If you see a blob of RJ the size of a natch head and canna see the larvve in it, you have the RIGHT size as that is what I like to graft.

Give the grafts to a queenless broodless box of bees and let them start the cells for you. That is ALL that is needed, the starting, as once the cups are waxed up any super of bees will finish them for you.

If you want some suggestions on some other basic simple kit let me know and I will post it up.

Have you seen this link Mark
We are going to have a go this year as well and this seems the most straightforward method.
Sorry I should also add to go to beekeeping articles, it is in there.
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The clues.

This method may or may not provide a couple of started cells. In our climate, a broodless, Q- box of young bees is the wayto go.

Bear in mind please I was not and will not play at this, if I am Q rearing I want Q's, not an exercise in experimentation.

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Correct me if I'm wrong PH - The method explained in the Teesbees article presents cells containing just hatched larvae to a queenless box of young bees which contains only sealed brood. So it is no different to the grafting system ie the ONLY cells available to the bees to make into queens are the ones you have given, except that you finish up with a brood frame that looks like a Swiss cheese:)
Regards Mike
I am not here to correct assumptions but I will point out problems that I see, and having been here and done this I feel competent to point out this.

Lets see what he does first.

"On a warm sunny day at about 10.00 am the hive from which I was going to rear my new queens from was opened and the queen with unsealed brood together with adhering bees were removed and placed in a spare brood box.
The remaining two brood boxes were reassembled, filling in the gaps with drawn empty brood frames or with frames of foundation and leaving a gap in the centre of the top brood box for the queen rearing frame to be placed later.
The separator board, which had been made earlier, was placed on top of the hive with the entrance gap on the top edge. The spare box containing the queen and brood were now placed on top of the separator board allowing the flying bees to escape and return to the lower brood boxes. This stopped any direct contact between the bees in the lower boxes and the queen, thus causing the bees to realise that the queen was missing and that a new one was needed. The hole in the centre of the board covered by the mesh allows the heat generated by the bees below to pass through and keep the brood warm."

I agree this implies that all the sealed brood is now in the two brood boxes and the unsealed is upstairs. Ho hum. I doubt it.

All it takes here to ruin the offering of larvae is one un-noticed open grub. The bees will far far prefer to use their own kind for a new queen than mess with the foreigh offered cells even though they are from the same queen. It's that bit alien aye?

If you really want to go the above method then I would do this. Put as much of the sealed brood as you can find in a box separated by an excluder as the mannie says, then wait for a few days, say 8, and then think of offering your punched cells. Why wait? Give them the chance to use any missed eggs. You could of course harvest any produced Q cells, or just knock them out and offer up your punched ones.

And some feeding will not go amiss either.

This is why I like the box of queenless and broodless bees, much faster. And far less prone to errors. Get in there, do it, and it's done. 20 odd cells to pick from . My best ever result was 32 from 36 grafts. The sun shone!

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So it is no different to the grafting system ie the ONLY cells available to the bees to make into queens are the ones you have given, except that you finish up with a brood frame that looks like a Swiss cheese:)
Regards Mike


As I see it, it is very similar to grafting, but you do not need quite the eyesight, or quite the steady hand, and to the beginner, it is probably less daunting a task. It is arguably slightly more appropriate for producing half a dozen cells. Unfortunately, as you say, you end up with holes in the comb. I dont think that anybody would argue the case for doing a large number like this, and professional breeders would laugh. Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that it is appropriate for that!

From my research, I think that the apparatus described is a bit large- 10 or 12mm (outside diameter) pipe is better, and it would be better to use a system that avoids taking the cell out of the punch/tube- better (and quicker) to produce 10 tubes.

I think that your method post punching/grafting etc is far better. From memory, it is as decribed in Doublon's book. thank you

I take no credit for the method I use, I am just saying bluntly what the pitfalls are of the cited method and having fallen into most if not all of the traps why not let others know a simple and pretty reliable way to go.


Weather folks makes a huge odds. Once upon a time I grafted and grafted and grafted and the results were pooh. Utter rubbish.

Then the sun shone and I got the 32 out of 36. WEATHER in the UK rules the roost.

Whilst on a roll what to do with the box of bees? they could start another set of offerings, or... Given one frame of brood, and a feed, and some foundation, they will make some very nice nucs. Three at least maybe four or five depending on how strong the numbers are.

Remember to mark the colonies that have started cells in the supers, and then cage the sealed cells. A mob of virgins in a super is not so funny.


(Thanks Admin)
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Thanks PH, I have been keeping bees for ages but have never raised my own queens by any other method than using swarm cells:blush5: I want to give it a go and have spent the winter reading up on the various methods. In your post 2 you offered to publish more info - yes please.
I will need to dust some kit off and take some pics.

However some food for thought.

If you are using swarm cells what does that tell you about the mother you are taking them from? She is from a swarmy strain says I.

Now to be fair near all colonies will swarm if "provoked" which is to say they are not given suitable and AMPLE room. Given that level field then we need to consider the other characteristics.

Personally I am not too fussed at temperament initially, the main one for me is supercedure, and having concentrated on that then look at other behaviours. It is relatively easy to intensify supercedure and it makes life a lot easier.

By pure chance I have for years been applying Roger Patterson's criteria for selecting swarm cells. ie a colony that produces less than 10 swarm cells is worth using any more then it is not. Using this system I have not noticed any increase in "swarmyness"
Looking forward to your pics and info.
Regards Mike

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