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  1. #61
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    May 2012
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    Forest grove, Ore USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Ok, I just have to ask. I tried grafting last week with a CLOSED cell builder last week. I am seeing that this system is entirely open from inception. Do I have it right? Transfer frames of pollen, honey, brood and shaken nurse bees and give them a day to acclimatize before introducing grafts?

  2. #62
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Yes, I never close them in. Conditions must be just right, or else confined bees will just spend all their time trying to escape.

    Confined bees can't forage, can't relieve themselves, etc. I can't really think of any good reason to confine them, and have often wondered about the reasoning behind that method, whenever I've read about it.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  3. #63
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    May 2012
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    Forest grove, Ore USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    I tried it because a local gentleman who has kept bees for a while told me to. I got a few cells to make a few nucs later this week. Tomorrow I will try again your way. Thank you

  4. #64
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    If I remember correctly, after closing them in, they need to be placed in someplace like a dark/cool/damp cellar or basement. I don't have anyplace like that, so I've never even had the chance to try it. If I had a basement or other suitable location, I'd probably have tried it with a closed setup, just to see how it works.

    I wish everyone the best success at this endeavor. It can be very rewarding.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  5. #65
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    3,072

    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    So far my experince with this system is.
    6-6-13 20 graft with 4 accepted cells. These 4 are due to emerge yesterday or today. one has emerged and is a small stunted queen. These cells have been relocated to an incubator for the last two days. Low acceptance I consider due to poor grafting technique and a weak cell starter colony. I am also thinking that the one is small due to a weak starter.
    We made improvments to our methods of grafting and made a second attempt.
    6-8-13 10 cells from the original 20 that had not been accepted where regrafted. again 4 cells where accepted. These are also on the incubator as of yesterday and due to emerge in 2 days according to an online calendar. 3 days by my calculations. So far my calculations have been more accurate.
    After this attempt we focused on a stronger cell started as well as improved cell finisher. We added frames of capped brood, added several frames of nurse bees, gave this starter a frame of open brood for 4 days and grafted another set of 20 cells.
    6-15-13 we grafted 20 cells. this time we focused on lifting the smallest larva possible. They where tiny barely bigger than an egg. on inspection yesterday there was 0 acceptance. All larva had been removed from the cells. Except that maybe we killed 100% of the larva while grafting I have no idea what would have caused this complete failure of acceptance. All conditions otherwise indicate we should have improved on our so far best 40% acceptance rate.

    6-16-13 on the 156th I had unintentionally made another nuc queenless while attempting to mark the queen. this was strong on brood. strong on nurse bees and 24 hours from being queenless. We grafted 20 cells and placed them in this colony even though they showed no signs of producing queen cells on the brood they already have. We returned to attempting to graft 2 day old larva again rather than the tiny 1 day ones.

    Today I will inspect for acceptance some time after 6 PM that gives them over 24 hours to show some indication of acceptance. we will also be grafting another 20 cells and giving them to the original starter nuc just to see if we can figure out what is going on their.

    Some of my other thoughts are that it has been to many cells in a week. basically a weak starter was given 30 cells in a 3 day period. given a 5 to 6 day break and boosted quite a bit then given 20 more cells. that seems acceptable to me and explains why the original cells did not fair well. The first four cells where left to be finished in the starter as well (Not prepaired). After the second attempt all cells whee moved to a finisher that did a much better job of building out larger cells with the second set of four. I have no idea how well this original starter might due with finishing cells now that they have been strengthened.

    At this time I am really stumped. I am most inclined to think it was the attempt to graft smaller larva and not a problem with the starter nuc. But I don't have a really strong feeling about anything at this point. It is almost like adding open brood sapped the bees of what royal jelly they had. they ay have simply refused to stat new queen cells. I have no idea.

    By the way this nuc has had sugar water and mega bee the entire time. Plus they do have bees foraging.

    hopefully this afternoon will show we are back on track and actually improving our results. If it comes up another zero I will find it hard to justify continuing any further attempts. I will have no idea what to fix in order to expect different results.

    We will continue with the mating of these poor queens just for the experience. but so far our final results will be no acceptable queens from 50 grafts. That may improve to 4 out of 50 in the next couple of days.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  6. #66
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    May 2012
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    Forest grove, Ore USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Daniel, please keep us informed. This is along the lines of my own experiences so far but I am going to try more grafts tomorrow. I am going to build open starter/finishers today and graft tomorrow. Last weeks efforts only gave two cells of twenty in one yard and I was not able to check the other.

  7. #67
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Daniel: Dont give up on grafting those newly hatched larvae. If they are literally floating they should transfer easily, if not then they can be easily damaged which I would agree is probably what happened to you. A tool like the Chinese grafting tool is particularly good at acting as a tiny scoop shovel to lift out larvae and jelly together, a tool that requires the larvae to adhere to it may be a bit more problematic. So much of queen raising is dependent on conditions. I think of it as "swimming with the current". When bees are wanting to swarm its pretty easy but if you aren't in prime swarming season then you must be far more diligent about creating the right conditions by getting even more populous and crowded cell builders.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #68
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    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Don't worry, it wasn't much better for me when I first began grafting. I wear corrective lenses (glasses), and after I started wearing a pair of high powered reading glasses, over my usual glasses, and using an extremely bright LED headlight to illuminate the larvae I was grafting, which helped me a great deal. Even those very young, very tiny larvae must not be injured or flipped over during the grafting process, so, being able to observe the process (for me, with highly magnified vision), is most important. Some people can do it blind, but I can't, yet. I have learned, for me, if I fumble, even a little, during the grafting, that I need to abandon the larvae I'm working with and select a new one. I use the JZsBZs red plastic grafting needle, most often. It has a small projection, at 90 degrees from the tip, which I use to push under the larvae (from front or back), then lift it cleanly. A tiny drop of royal jelly in the cell cup that I then touch the larvae to as I push the needle through the RJ drop and then up and out of the cup, works best for me. It's sort of a quick fluid motion; pluck larvae from its cell, touch larvae to RJ drop, then push needle down and then up and out of cup. But what really makes this work for me, is my highly aided eyes can see what and how everything is working. I can see the tiny little larvae and observe its entire transfer process. Whenever I notice any tiny flaw in the process, I can almost guarantee it has failed. I still sometimes mark a few that are questionable, to watch how they turn out -- those are almost always rejected.

    My most common failure is to unintentionally touch the larvae to the cell wall on its way out of the cell. I have learned that if this happens, to abandon that attempt and move on to another larvae.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  9. #69
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    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Jim is right - don't give up on grafting the smallest larva possible. That is absolutely the direction you want to go. I don't know what the weather is like in Reno right now, but I'm going to step out on a limb and guess hot and dry. That can be an issue that you have to deal with. Keep your frame of larva and your grafts covered with a damp towel as much as possible, and get them all back in the hives ASAP. Also feed the hive you going to graft from and they will have more jelly and be easier to work with. Also something I learned recently is that you can lightly mist the brood frame with plain water which also helps.

    Make sure that your cell starter is queenless - if they aren't starting cells somewhere then they are not. If they are building cells on brood frames, but not your grafts... That tells you where the problem is.

    The most likely problem that I think beginners have is not making the starter strong enough with nurse bees.

    Don't give up - there is a learning curve, but soon you will improve a lot if you keep doing it every few days like you are.

    Good luck.

  10. #70
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    Jan 2009
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Joseph - I've had very similar experience. Lot's of magnification and light make a huge difference - I use a donegan optivisor. I never got used to a Chinese tool, and use a German SS tool - I'm a tool user by trade and I like durable ones that I can become very familiar with, but I might have to give the JZBZs tool another try - I do like how it doesn't get in the way of seeing the larva.

    For me, I have better luck it I approach the larva from the outside of it's curved shape. And I also abandon and start over if the smallest thing goes wrong.

    For best results you need to do everything that you can to stack the deck in your favor - and then it comes out looking easy.

  11. #71
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    I guess it's all in what tool you get used to. The Chinese grafting tool is used by everyone that I know but they no doubt all work well once their particular technique is mastered. A real nice description by Joe. You really need to be able to see what you are doing to get a feel for the proper technique. If you aren't sure if you did it properly then you probably didn't, at least that has been my experience.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  12. #72
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    Aug 2011
    Location
    Polk County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    I made up a queenless 5 framer this weekend. Today, I'm checking for any rogue queen cell building and destroying any of those. Should I wait another day before adding my grafts or will today be fine?

    DanielY..I prefer my crow with bbq sauce. Youre way ahead of me

  13. #73
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    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    When I first started I got one, each, of most of the various grafting tools available, except the very pricey one, the one with the metal tongue that sticks out when you push on a lever, looks similar to finger-nail trimmers - probably the best one, but I just couldn't get myself to pay that much for a simple grafting needle. All the money I've invested in needles over the years, probably wouldn't be enough to buy three of those.

    I started with the German stainless, double ended. Then I found the JZsBZs No. 1, red, plastic needle to work nicely. I also tried the Chinese ones with the goose quill tongue and bamboo or plastic pusher. I do appreciate those Chinese grafting tools, when they work, they work very well, and cups don't need to be primed, but I sometimes find it difficult to locate one where the quill tongue flexes just right. Then, once I have one that works quite well, it usually wears out just when I'm on a grafting roll. I've also tried some differently configured JZsBZs grafting needles (Jim let me try other needle sizes and angles to see if any particular configuration worked best, for me). None worked better than the original No. 1, but a slightly different No. 1 angle worked almost as well. I like to keep plenty of the JZsBZs needles around, since I have the habit of placing them where the fragile needle tips keep getting knocked off (Note to self: I need to build a holder that will protect the needle when not in use). What I like about the JZsBZs needle is how it has a tiny tip that barely touches the larvae (the larvae is perched above the needle as it's being moved), then once I touch the larvae to the tiny bead of RJ and quickly push the needle down and move it up, the surface tension of the RJ holds the larvae and the needle is removed, sans larvae.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  14. #74
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    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    That actually sounds better than what I do with the SS tool which is try to just barely get under the larva so that it's hanging off the edge of the tool. If you get it too far under the larva it's difficult or impossible to get it deposited in the cup. When you do pick it up just right it's a breeze. I probably eat about every third one.

    It would be great if someone with a really good camera could video the different techniques you use with the different tools.

    The thing that beginners need to understand is that it isn't all that hard no matter what tool you use - it just takes a bit of practice and diligence.

  15. #75
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Another trick I sometimes use, that I haven't heard much mention of, yet -->

    After I do a batch of grafts, 1, 2, or more bars. I keep track of the frame I grafted from, so I can reacquire it easily. Then I only wait about an hour, then check them. Those that are now empty, I regraft, it usually improves the total take. Sometimes I do this two or three times, an hour apart. Usually, if I've done this I can get nearly 100% of the cups started (they may not finish them all, but at least I get more started). Sure, it's cheating, but in a good way.

    ----------------
    Getting this documented on video seems like it would be quite a feat. I am not a video expert, and there's probably an easy trick to get it done. But, it usually is a very narrow angle I must acquire to properly view each larvae as I pick them up with the needle and then likewise as I deposit them in the cell cup. In my minds eye, I don't know how the camera could capture this, without completely hindering the process, or vice versa. It would be very nice though, if it could be done.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  16. #76
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Quote Originally Posted by VolunteerK9 View Post
    I made up a queenless 5 framer this weekend. Today, I'm checking for any rogue queen cell building and destroying any of those. Should I wait another day before adding my grafts or will today be fine?
    You can add grafts any time. It doesn't matter when you remove queen cells as long as you do it before they emerge - and of course if they are open then they will consume some of the attention that you want your grafts to get. I get the best results if I put young open brood in 4 days before I graft then remove any cells the same time that I get ready to add my grafts.

  17. #77
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    Aug 2011
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    Polk County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    I did 20 grafts earlier today-just checked on them after about a 5 hour time frame of being placed in a hive. Lots of festooning around the cell cups which may be nothing but festooning for festoonings sake. Time will tell I suppose.

  18. #78
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    Sep 2011
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Update on yesterday. It turned out we had 26 grafts in that last frame. My daughter had added some used but ignored cups from previous attempts she had added. I was not even counting at the time we grafted. We had an acceptance of 8 cells. An acceptance of 36.6%. It beats the previous day anyway. I am not going to admit our less than 16% running total. Oops.

    We also combined the two nucs to make a stronger 10 frame starter. Two 5 frame deep nucs stacked on top of each other.

    We grafted another 20 cups focusing once again on the tiniest of larva. this afternoon will tell if we have improved with them. I primed all cups and we where more careful in abandoning any failed attempts. I also gathers a drop of jelly for each cup before transferring any larva. We did not have the best frame for larva selection so I had a hard time finding the size larva I wanted so I am probably still on the largish size my daughter found a patch of very small larva. so comparing her bar to mine may be interesting.

    So in all after 96 grafts we have 16 cells cooking, 4 queens emerged with only one of acceptable quality and 4 still in the incubator. 8 are in my largest hive that we are using as a finisher. If we make another attempt I may see what happens if we just start and finish them in this large hive. The starter we have is struggling to start cells so I am not using it to try and finish them. the first batch of cells where started and finished by one of them and the queens turned out very poor quality.

    I also think it is time to boost the starter again if we continue grafting. For the most part I think we are done for now. It depends on the quality of some of thee other queens. the next 4 cells look far more promising and I only need 15 queens total.

    In all I am not real happy with our acceptance rate. but if we get the queens we need that is what counts. So the journey may look ugly but the results are right where we need them. So I will keep going until we have 15 acceptable quality queens.

    Final note on another thought I have had. We are most likely past the best time to be starting queens.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  19. #79
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    Final note on another thought I have had. We are most likely past the best time to be starting queens.
    Maybe, but some people believe that queens which are mated after the Solstice (June 21 I think) are more prolific layers for the fall build up.

  20. #80
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    May 2012
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    Forest grove, Ore USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Queen Rearing using the Joseph Clemens Starter/Finisher

    Ok! So using all the little tips and tricks I picked up in this last page of this thread about the handling of larvae I did 20 more grafts today!

    I used an illuminated magnifying visor that was only seven bucks from amazon, I cut down comb with a razor, I slipped the tongue of my trusty Chinese grafting tool stealthily under bug after bug! It all really went very, very well from what I have read and experienced last week.

    My big question is...... The very NEWEST larvae were in a pool of royal jelly that was so small that the tool really just did not work very well, at least for my inexperienced self. I ended up picking SLIGHTLY OLDER larvae just because they had a "juicier" puddle of RJ. Has anyone else experienced this?

    Also, did the grafts at noon and tomorrow is a 24 hour shift at the firehouse, can I check tonight and tell if they have taken?

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