Queen grafting. Good idea?

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New Bee
Aug 3, 2009
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Wolverhampton, UK
Hive Type
Number of Hives
Hello all. Just trying to get some advice on an idea I've had, or really asking is this is possible to do.

I recently acquired a good hive of bees and they were doing very well so I split them into another hive about 3 weeks ago. Again, the original colony has filled the brood box back up where I removed frames etc (queen excellent layer and there is lots of forage where I have them on my allotments). The new 'split' colony has built 2 queen cells right next to each other and I saw the larvae and royal jelly in before they sealed them up.

The question I want to ask is, given the time of year, would it be possible to graft one of the queen cells onto a frame a split the original colony again with this donor queen as it were, as she will have less than a week to emerge? I personally think the original colony will tolerate further frame removal. The new nuc box I built to take 6 frames out of 5/8 ply and I have a sturdy frame feeder to put in aswell. Is this possible or is it far too late?

Was really hoping for safety in numbers to get something through the winter. I am thinking all of this as a total novice by the way

Thanks for any advice,
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Hi Tom,sure it can be done but seeing as you only have 2 hives I would try and get them both through the winter first.

You could take the gamble but I would not personally.

Now wait for someone to come along and say diferent...

If you think they (and you) are up to it, go for it. You may get an extra queen laying for a couple of months depending on what our British weather turns out to be. Be prepared to unite before settling down for winter with just your two colonies.

As a new starter you are being possibly over enthusiastic re the strength of you bees. I don't know. Possibly over enthusiastic re getting colonies through the winter. I don't know.

Me? I would have a go. Nothing (much) to lose. But that is me and I have been keeping bees for a few years.

If you do, be very gentle with those QCs, especially if they are very close together, or you may end up without another queen.

I might be asking how you did your split - separating brood in the hive until cells were buillt, or emergency cells? The latter may yield just a couple of scrub queens.

You really need an axperienced beekeeper to physically check your situation and advise.

Are you expecting to over-winter in the nuc, or going to build another hive??

Regards, RAB
I am going to stick my neck out here and say go for it.

You have back up with bees, it seems, and a good locale. You have your nuc box and your frame feeder so yes give it a go.

Just one word of caution and it is nit picking really but grafting has as a word a very specific meaning in beekeeping. Cutting out a queen cell is not truly grafting, moving a larvae is.

Good luck

Many thanks for all the replies, and sorry for the delay in replying.

I did split my hive as I had already got a spare second hive to house a new colony. Anyway, in addition to the comments and advice from here, I consulted a textbook no money can buy in the form of Hedgrow Pete. Lots of brilliant advice offered and a good chat! Cuppa was ok too!

The split colony tried to make a new queen and i thoguht the workers had torn down the cells, so got a bit worried. Then asked Pete to investigate as the drone levels were getting few and far between. Still no sign of a new queen though.

I got ready to reunite and had a last few looks just incase. On the last attempt I noticed a new brood (that too which Pete had previoulsy mentioned) on a frame or two, and it was defintitely too new to be from the test frame I stuck in. That led me to think there was a new queen in residence. I gave it another week or so and managed to spot her. Was very pleased.

Since then, they have built up honey stroes and new bees very well. I have put frame feeders in too.

Fingers crossed now for the winter with both hives!
well done, i have been beekeeping for 10 years plus and i would have thought that the drones would have all gone, only worry would be as to how well mated the new queen is, only next season will tell.
Just my usual word of caution.

The exception proves the rule and trying for late mating is all very well but those that go for that (thinking BIBBA here) are in a position to manage their drones.

Also they have a few on the go so the ones that fail are allowed for in the overall numbers game.