Re: killing larvae - Stop the madness!
Have been grafting in Texas for a couple of years. Here is what works for me.
July is pretty hot and the larvae will dry out pretty quick. Take a damp towel and and empty nuc with you. Remove the frame you are going to graft from and cover with a damp towel for transport to the grafting room. Since we are talking summer I will dispense with making sure the grafting room is warm. However, you might sprinkle a little water on the floor to increase the humidity.
I "wet graft", that is, I graft into a drop of royal jelly. You can buy organic royal jelly online but be prepared, it is a little pricey. Use a 1 (one) cc syringe without the needle and put one drop into each cup. You can prime about 12 to 13 cells with 1 cc of royal jelly. This will allow you to "float" the larvae off the grafting needle with little problem.
Two to four hours prior to grafting, I make up a starter colony using a 5 frame nuc built as noted in the book "Scientific Queen Rearing". An excellent read. This is an enclosed nuc with an extended screened in bottom. That is, no bees can come and go. In this nuc, add a wet sponge for water in the bottom, 2 frames of pollen/bee bread and two frames of honey (I like to find honey that is partially capped or just prior to capping. To this I add the nurse bees from about 6 frames. I think this about 3 lbs. Let this all set a couple of hours before adding the grafts.
Jar the bees to the bottom of the nuc and install the grafts in the center space. If it is really hot, take the nuc indoors or at least in the shade. In 24 hours the grafts will be started and you will be able to see the "take". Move from starter to finisher at the point. Usually graft from 28 to 36 cells at a time into one nuc and have gotten as high as 98% (in October) take.
Alternately (and this has been working really well), leave the cells in the starter for 48 hours. They will be drawn from 1/2 to 3/4 inch at this point. Being very careful, move the individual cells into queenless nucs (splits). The bees in the nuc will finish the cell and think it is their own queen. Use your imagination for requeening established colonies at this point.
BTW, I use JZBZ cell cups and have found little need to let the bees polish them. Wax cups would be a different story I think.
The above is not original, see Larry Connors recent article (in ABJ I think, maybe July or Aug) regarding this very procedure.
I know I left out a few details. Suggest Larry Connors book on Queen Rearing and the above referenced "Scientific Queen Rearing.
Queen rearing is one of those exercizes that all Beekeepers should endeavor. It WILL make you a better, more observant Beek.
Last edited by Flyman; 12-09-2010 at 05:57 PM.
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