Queen Rearing - first go Grafting...

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Field Bee
May 5, 2009
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Hive Type
Number of Hives
6 >12 - 14x12 + Nucs
First go a Grafting eggs - so some thoughts - Queen breeders TAKE MY MONEY!
A bit of a end of season experiment - if it fails then will be combining colonies - if you don'' try you don't learn!
I Have two queen-less colonies one through choice / one through??? both no confirmed Queenless - No Eggs / No Virgin
I used a rubbish fake Cupkit type kit that I had in the back dusty drawer - I only used the frame holders x 16 and mounted them on a frame with the small cups - then placed in hive after dribbling a little syrup on the cell holders.
3 days later these where looking clean and bees all over them.

So today with a break in the weather - I selected a frame of eggs from my favourite colony.
with the Voice of Richard Noel You Tube beekeeper in my head I choose the area on the Fram where the eggs had hatched into small larva.
then with my rubbish Chinese grafting tool I ventured in to the depth of a cell ---- ok I now I understand why its not easy.... I struggled to scoop a larva / probably sliced a few / and certainly rub a few up the side of the cell.
after dropping 6 into the waiting cups I decided - 1 to put my glasses on - Que running to the house / and getting recently purchased glasses as new to needing them!
then I used another Chinese grafting tool to sacrifice a cell to allow easier access to the hero cell. - worked I bit better - and eventually filled my 16 cups.
gently placing the frame back into the queen less colony and the mutilated Fram back into original hive.

So what did I learn so far --
its certainly harder than it looks.
my process for getting Cell cup frame ready and into hive - needs work!
I need to try some different Grafting Tools.
the Amazon Special Chinese tools - are they all the same Quality? I would it difficult to bend the end into a scoop rather that a point - are there differing nib parts as I found the retractable part used to drop larva into cell in a couple of cases rolled to larva until it was trapped under it -

What am I hoping to get out of this - Well its a challenge - and doing is the best way of learning.
if if if if any of the cells are excepted then would be amazing to get Two new Queens.

if they are excepted - my plan was to wait until they are capped
then remove one cell and try and push the plastic part into a frame from my other queen less hive so that the virgin hatches in that hive.
the other cells perhaps cage them all apart from one that can be part of that colony
I dont want to make any splits or Mating Hives this time of year.
Good on you for having a go!
The Chinese tools are pretty crap but bar a fine art brush I find they are the best at doing the job. Just buy lots they are cheap unless brought from certain suppliers😂
Try bending or getting a slight curve on the quill. Simply apply some pressure and bend at the plunger point before use.
Definitely break some cell walls down around chosen cell.
When placing in a cell insert quill with larvae and get bend of quill on cell base then press plunger gently to push jelly and grub off.
If placing cells into other hives always put in a cell protector!!!! This could be a simple strip of foil wrapped around cell with just tip/cap exposed. Only handle cells a couple of days before emerging, and very gently.
I can’t add a pic of the protectors I use but there’s a large difference in acceptance rates between types.

Cell raisers should contain lots of young bees not already aged queenless units, I’d also wonder if they are actually q-less?

I’ve a Nicot system and I use the plug in sections and add wax cups simply melt the end and push cup onto the part that normally takes the plastic cups. You do not need to place in a hive for days but anything from 6-24 hrs does imo improve the take. Don’t leave wax cups longer as the bees will chew down.
thanks Ian, is moving cells the best option or caging emerging virgin and running them into queen less hive?
I find cells less agro but each to their own!
Just done a 24hr check - no larva left in cells - did another graft feeling calmer and less clumsy - so lets see how we go - if no luck by weekend then might pop a Frame off eggs in.
Just done a 24hr check - no larva left in cells - did another graft feeling calmer and less clumsy - so lets see how we go - if no luck by weekend then might pop a Frame off eggs in.
As said previously how confident are you they are queen less
well I was 100% percent until today - been culling Queen cells for 10 days.
now after finding the empty cells less so!
Success - well Sort of - Looks like possibly three Larva have been excepted - sign of cells been drawn,
1 - looks full of royal jelly
2&3 - wax been drawn but not so obvious that there is a Larva in them - Will Take my glasses up with me tomorrow...
1 out of 16 - going to take that as a step forward. :)
Wanted to be sure so took a very quick - Gentle look.
plenty of activity -
But only one Cell looking promising.
can see plenty of Royal jelly & a Larva inside

So Fingers Crossed

Looks like this hive might get a new queen / Best plan to Combine my other hives without another queen from this experiment.

hmmm - checked Fram very carefully to see what's going on - kept upright.
bees have been busy enlarging cell with war in cell formation - will take camera tomorrow.
13 days since Grafting -
I've done a bit grafting with the Chinese tools. I find that in a pack of 10 or so, a few good ones emerge. Definitely try a few. And as others have said, fine sanding (sand paper) of the quill can help. I usually stick the quill into my mouth after each graft -seems to slide down the cell wall better. Also, keeping the frame moist (it can get warm here in California) with a damp towel helps too more generally.

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