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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,858

    Default Does age matter ?

    I've been schooled that the best larvae to make into queens are those larvae that are 24 to 36-hours old. As I use my Nicot system, those young larvae are clearly fed royal jelly, but it also seems the royal jelly is fed well into the third day (48 to 72 hours).

    If one difference between good queens and poor queens is the age of the larvae that are grafted, and since these larvae are still being fed royal jelly, is the 24 to 36-hour window really that critical? What am I missing here?

    Second, with the Nicot system, I can see the larvae clearly as my close-up, uncorrected vision is quite good. When does this larvae begin to show the segmentation of it's body? I keep going back to the idea, expressed somewhat ironically, that if you can see the larvae, they're too big to graft.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Brandon, MS USA
    Posts
    1,585

    Default Re: Does age matter ?

    The critical issue is the position that the larvae is placed within the colony... while the feed is "adequate" to create a queen for some time beyond that perfect period, the care that nurses give the cells that are vertical as opposed to horizontal... vertical cells are kept at a higher temp and mirco-vibrations are used periodically from the beginning of development... as for the "adequate" feed, keep in mind that while we have yet to determine the exact difference between the jelly that is fed to horizontal cells and that of vertical cells, there is indeed still a difference... when a larvae is grafted, the first thing that the nurses do is clean out the jelly that was grafted with it, and replace it with a fresh jelly... they know the difference, whether we can see it or not...

    So the bottom line is that the earlier the larvae is grafted, the longer it is allowed to develop as a queen, thus raising the quality of its outcome... when grafting we want to use what they would use naturally... after all, they have over 100,000 years of experience. Lol.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,140

    Default Re: Does age matter ?

    Do they clean it out if you prime with royal jelly that you harvested from 3 day old cells? Seems like a waste. It seems like it improves acceptance - or else I'm getting better at grafting.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Brandon, MS USA
    Posts
    1,585

    Default Re: Does age matter ?

    They do clean out the priming jelly as well... BUT, when its hot out, the priming helps to keep the larvae fed and moist during that process, thus raising your acceptance rates... remember that the nurses that are cleaning out the jelly are producing higher quality jelly themselves... unlike those that are cleaning out yogurt or watered down honey...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Does age matter ?

    For me, it seems, I have better acceptance the smaller the grafted larvae. I use high magnification reading glasses, over my usual prescription corrective lenses and in sunlight I am easily able to see even the smallest larvae and watch them as I lift and transfer them to the cell cups. A small amount of fresh royal jelly makes it easier to successfully transfer the larvae from the grafting needle to the cell cup. I believe the surface tension between the larvae and royal jelly helps move the larvae off the grafting needle and into the royal jelly and reduces the friction and chance of damaging the larva's skin that friction against the bare surface of the cell cup might cause. Every so often I intentionally choose one or two larvae that are, at most, a few hours older than the smallest size, placing them in a particular slot. Those older larvae are almost invariably rejected and the younger larvae are most generally accepted.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,140

    Default Re: Does age matter ?

    That's exactly what I've been finding - I got one of those 2.5X jewelers optivisors with a light on it so I can see what I'm doing now, and a tiny drop of liquid - royal jelly - out of a hypo needle makes it a lot easier to get the larva safely off of the tool. Now my acceptance rate is flirting with 90%. I have been doing it about once a week since March also though.

    There should be a sticky post in this forum of grafting tips - it seems like everyone is afraid they won't be able to do it at first. I guess it's good for the sale of Jenter systems though.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,858

    Default Re: Does age matter ?

    Thanks for the responses. I'm still going with the youngest larvae but was kind of curious. Using the Nicot system, it seems most queens need a day to "adjust" to the egg laying box. Still, some queens will lay right away. I've been setting up multiple cell builders and coming back to "graft" the newly hatched larvae on subsequent days when there was nothing but eggs the day before.


    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

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