Grafting v Cell Punch

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understanding_bees 

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I would like to hear about the experiences which forum members may have had in their attempts at grafting, and with the cell punch method.

Grafting is a method which obviously works, but from my observations it works best for those with perseverance and experience, and from the skills that are learned in the process.

The cell punch method would seem, at least at first glance, to eliminate the problems of picking up and setting down very small and fragile larvae. Nevertheless many people who have attempted the cell punch method have not necessarily been as successful as they would have hoped.

Have you tried both methods?

How many attempts have you made (with either method) before you had success?

You can think of other questions that could be asked. I hope that forum members will share their experiences – whether they be difficulties, failures or successes.
 

B+. 

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I would like to hear about the experiences which forum members may have had in their attempts at grafting, and with the cell punch method.

Grafting is a method which obviously works, but from my observations it works best for those with perseverance and experience, and from the skills that are learned in the process.

The cell punch method would seem, at least at first glance, to eliminate the problems of picking up and setting down very small and fragile larvae. Nevertheless many people who have attempted the cell punch method have not necessarily been as successful as they would have hoped.

Have you tried both methods?

How many attempts have you made (with either method) before you had success?

You can think of other questions that could be asked. I hope that forum members will share their experiences – whether they be difficulties, failures or successes.
The cell punch method still requires fairly good eye-sight and the ability to identify which larvae to use.
One method you might try is the Nicot queen cage. I haven't had much luck with it myself but you may succeed where I have failed. This method gives you much more control over the age of the larvae you graft than punching random cells (not that you would).
 

madasafish 

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I would like to hear about the experiences which forum members may have had in their attempts at grafting, and with the cell punch method.

s.

The cell punch method would seem, at least at first glance, to eliminate the problems of picking up and setting down very small and fragile larvae. Nevertheless many people who have attempted the cell punch method have not necessarily been as successful as they would have hoped.

Have you tried both methods?

How many attempts have you made (with either method) before you had success?

I have tried both.

First of all, I found cell punching VERY frustrating. If the comb is dark and thick, cell punching is hard work and MY results with it were rubbish. In soft new wax, often destroy the comb on a warm day.

Grafting? Well I am elderly with poor eyesight as said before. But I succeeded last year - and this year as well.

1. Chinese grafting tool is easiest.. no skill needed just a steady hand. To help the tip bend, immerse tip in warm water for 20 seconds and wash in same water after every graft to keep it supple (VERY important)
2. Magnification essential 2x is best - over 2x and the focal distance of the lens shortens and you are working too close to the comb.
3. Good lighting is essential -an adjustable head torch is best.
4. Read the Apiarist You searched for grafting - The Apiarist
5. Read this youtube video
6. Be prepared to practise day 1, examine results day2/3 do it again, repeat etc.

I use a Donegan Optivisor with 2.0 magnification and Optilight.
###

#### Being a mean Scot I set a search in ebay and bought both lens and light for less than half new price - took 6 months to find it.

You can buy cheaper magnification but my eyesight is so poor closeup that I struggle with the slightest imperfections..


Having succeeded, My conclusions were:

1. Many beekeepers have good vision and are highly dexterous and grafting comes easily. They make the worst teachers of grafting as it is easy for them.:cool:
2. For those of poor vision and/or limited dexterity , the Chinese Grafting tool is the GOTO. Ignore any other method.
3. Practise as often as you can.
4. It helps to be able to identify young larvae - hatched within 24 hours is best. Practise that BEFORE grafting. .
 
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B+. 

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I have tried both.

First of all, I found cell punching VERY frustrating. If the comb is dark and thick, cell punching is hard work and MY results with it were rubbish. In soft new wax, often destroy the comb on a warm day.

Grafting? Well I am elderly with poor eyesight as said before. But I succeeded last year - and this year as well.

1. Chinese grafting tool is easiest.. no skill needed just a steady hand. To help the tip bend, immerse tip in warm water for 20 seconds and wash in same water after every graft to keep it supple (VERY important)
2. Magnification essential 2x is best - over 2x and the focal distance of the lens shortens and you are working too close to the comb.
3. Good lighting is essential -an adjustable head torch is best.
4. Read the Apiarist You searched for grafting - The Apiarist
5. Read this youtube video
6. Be prepared to practise day 1, examine results day2/3 do it again, repeat etc.

I use a Donegan Optivisor with 2.0 magnification and Optilight.
###

#### Being a mean Scot I set a search in ebay and bought both lens and light for less than half new price - took 6 months to find it.

You can buy cheaper magnification but my eyesight is so poor closeup that I struggle with the slightest imperfections..


Having succeeded, My conclusions were:

1. Many beekeepers have good vision and are highly dexterous and grafting comes easily. They make the worst teachers of grafting as it is easy for them.:cool:
2. For those of poor vision and/or limited dexterity , the Chinese Grafting tool is the GOTO. Ignore any other method.
3. Practise as often as you can.
4. It helps to be able to identify young larvae - hatched within 24 hours is best. Practise that BEFORE grafting. .
Alternatively, you could remove the need to see the larvae by simply cutting alternate cells
 

understanding_bees 

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First of all, I found cell punching VERY frustrating. If the comb is dark and thick, cell punching is hard work and MY results with it were rubbish. In soft new wax, often destroy the comb on a warm day.
When I first read about the cell-punch method, it seemed to me that a larva in a cell which had been made by the bees, and which had hatched in that cell, ought to have an advantage over a larva which had been extracted from its “made-by-the-bees” cell and grafted into an artificial cell of some kind. It seems to me that the fragility of a very small larva needs to be considered, and that it should experience the least possible amount of trauma if it is selected for promotion to a queen. This would probably include any/all kinds of vibration or bumping.

Because I am so much inclined to experimenting, and making things, I felt that this cell-punch method might provide an interesting alternative to grafting. I had some very thin-walled stainless steel tubing (which I mentioned in a post to the forum some weeks ago), and made an experimental punch on which I was able to produce a very sharp cutting edge. I did some initial experiments on some old comb which was completely empty of any stores, and I very quickly formed the impression that this little device should be much more accurately described as a cell-cutter rather than as a cell-punch. I found that by rotating the cell-cutter back and forth (by this I mean clockwise and anticlockwise), and using only gentle pressure against the comb, that I was able to cut cells very easily, and very cleanly, from the comb. I was successful in cutting cells which were wax only (which had never contained a larva), and also old brood cells, because the cutter was so sharp. I was able to cut the cells out, and slide them through the cell cutting tube without distorting them.

I think that a major difficulty with the cell “punching” method is that it is capable of forcefully distorting the cell, whereas “cell-cutting”, especially with a very sharp cutter, enables the harvesting of cells without damaging them. I believe that you have correctly identified some essential aspects of queen raising:

Magnification essential 2x is best - over 2x and the focal distance of the lens shortens and you are working too close to the comb.

Good lighting is essential -an adjustable head torch is best.

It helps to be able to identify young larvae - hatched within 24 hours is best. Practise that BEFORE grafting.


I have not yet been able to put my theories into actual “queen raising practice”, because we are in the middle of winter here now, but I hope to be able to do so, not too many weeks from now, when spring weather arrives. The thing which really impresses me most, from your advice, is the importance of being able to identify suitable candidate larvae. In my experiments with empty comb, I have been able to cut a selected cell together with part of the walls of the surrounding six cells. I have formed the impression that it may well be worthwhile to identify a number of candidate cells before cutting any of them. I think that a dress-makers pin (the kind of pin which has a big head made from coloured plastic) could be positioned next to a candidate cell which is selected. Using this approach it would not be necessary to keep using the magnifier, to be able to cut out the selected cells.
 

elainemary 

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I have tried both. Cell punches didn’t work but that was down to my cell raising colony not being right - queenright system with a young queen, in poor weather. Too much pheromone, rubbish weather last June not conducive to rearing queens.

Re Grafting I’ve had 50-60% success the 2x I’ve tried it this year, more than enough for my needs and I used a Cloakboard and queenless cell raising techniques. Both worked well and the larva were v well fed as it was sunny with a flow on

Generally when people talk about queen rearing, they emphasise larval transfer methods, way above the cell raising aspect, which I’ve learnt is as much, if not more important, than the way you simply transfer the larva.

I’ve no doubt cell punching can work well. As others have said the risk of damaging the larva is low but it’s all about timing and getting the right age. Old comb put into a hive specifically for the purpose 4 days before punching works well.

I’ve concluded that if you put more time getting your cell raiser into the right conditions, most methods of larva transfer will work
 

Michael Palmer 

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1. Chinese grafting tool is easiest.. no skill needed just a steady hand. To help the tip bend, immerse tip in warm water for 20 seconds and wash in same water after every graft to keep it supple (VERY important)
Just stick it in your mouth between grafts. Keeps it clean and soft
 

understanding_bees 

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Magnification essential 2x is best - over 2x and the focal distance of the lens shortens and you are working too close to the comb.
Good lighting is essential -an adjustable head torch is best.
I fully understand that good magnification AND good lighting are very desirable.

I checked for various magnifiers on ebay, and at my local "$2 Shop". After seeing a variety of magnifiers, I was really impressed by (and purchased) a hand-held magnifier. It has a +3 lens (3 dioptre) which is 80mm in diameter, and has built-in LED lights which are powered by two "AA" cells. The lens is big enough so that when I am examining an object 25cm from my face I can see very small objects clearly with both eyes, rather than having to use one eye only.
 

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