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Thread: grafting

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Arcadia,Fl.
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    143

    Default grafting

    i see listed some put Royal jelly to "Prime" the cups . When i watch videos of grafting i do not see them adding anything to the cup but an egg. Whay's up?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,423

    Default Re: grafting

    Doolittle started the idea of priming the cups. Over the years many people have started by priming and eventually ended up not priming and not seeing any difference in the outcome. As an example, Jay Smith started by priming and eventually decided it did not help. So did many others of us.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
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    1,620

    Default Re: grafting

    This has been my first year grafting and I do not prime my cups. I do put the cups in the hive to be polished ahead of time if I have time. I have had pretty good success grafting into dry cups.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,693

    Default Re: grafting

    How in the world are y'all successful with grafting? This is also my first year grafting, and I have now grafted a total of 145 grafts, the first dozen or two of which were a little rough, but all the others went very smoothly as far as the grafting process itself. Out of those 145, I had exactly 6 cells take. I don't know whats goning wrong. I am confident and have a steady hand and I know what size to look for, as far as I know. I have primed with yogurt, pure royal jelly, and have also tried not priming. I have tried plastic and beeswax cell cups. Nothing works! So I am wondering how you all are being successful. Any input? Thanks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
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    422

    Default Re: grafting

    What grafting tool are you using? Are you inadvertently scraping the larva against the cell wall as you bring it up? Are you keeping them moist throughout the whole process? How long do you have them out of the hive before you have them placed in the cell builder? I read on another post you are using the cloak board method, I'm not familiar with this but I imagine if your cell builder isn't without queen for several hours they won't build cells. I only did my first graft a week ago but I still got 80% acceptance. I'll tell you how I did it fwiw.

    I took a five frame nucleus box and collected a frame from 3 different donor hives. After collecting the donor frames (this took about five minutes) I went and hopped in my truck and left the AC OFF and the windows cracked for a little bit of a breeze (it was upper eighties that day so it was pretty bloody hot). Once inside the truck I put a cup of hot water in the five frame nuc with the 3 frames in an attempt to raise the humidity inside the nucleus colony. This part of Wyoming can be pretty dry and I wanted to make sure the larva didn't dry out. I had a frame set up with 3 cell bars and 16 bars per cell so each bar got 16 grafts from one colony. I would pull the frame out of the nuc, graft the sixteen cells, when I was grafting I would tear down the cell walls all around the larva I was going for so I could come up with it about a 1/4" and be out of the cell. This way I wasn't scraping it against the sidewalls as I came out. After each cell bar was full of grafts I took a wet rag and covered the cells with the rag. I used water that was probably around 90 degrees F for this. Didn't want to chill the larva, didn't want to cook them either. All of my cell cups I primed with a little droplet of distilled water. After I had a little droplet in all the cells I shook it out to make sure I didn't accidentally shake out the larva while placing them in the hive. Don't know if this helped but what the heck it's how I did it. This whole process took me about 20-30 minutes to graft all 48 cells. After I finished grafting I made sure all of the cells bars were covered with a damp rag and I walked them over to the hive and set them off to the side while I opened my cell builder up and dropped them in the middle of it. The only time they were uncovered was when I was taking the rag off them to put them in the hive.

    My cell builder was set up thusly: Ten days before my graft I went out to my yard and put a queen excluder on top of a queen right colony that was fairly strong. I had made a split off of it about three weeks before and they had already had 2 deeps of brood and 1 deep of honey. On top of the queen excluder I put a deep hive body and filled it full of brood in various stages of development, I believe it was about 7 frames of brood with 2 frames of honey and one empty frame so they had something to draw out. After two or three days I went and checked my hive body above the excluder to make sure there were no eggs and I didn't accidentally transfer a queen, just larva and capped brood in various stages of development. After ten days I went out to my yard and again checked to make sure there was only capped brood. By this point there shouldn't be any open brood just capped. I went out in the morning around eight o'clock when I did this. What I did was pull the hive apart and set the queen right portion (the bottom two deeps) off to the side facing the opposite direction from it's original position and then I placed the hive body that just had brood and no eggs or any way to raise a queen on the original location so they would receive all of the foragers from the original colony. I also placed a super that had a frame or two of honey in it and had others that were being drawn out. After this I went back into town and had breakfast with my lovely wife and went to go see Madagascar 3. It was a cute show but definitely not as good as Prometheus. IN MY OPINION. Anyways that all took about four or five hours so by now the colony that was made queenless on purpose by me was in a panic because they are not only queenless but hopelessly queenless. I went back out to my apiary and grafted my cells as described above and then placed them in my queenless hive. I placed them smack dab in the middle with a frame of honey on one side and a frame of emerging brood on the other side. That evening when I went to check them the bees were busy drawing out cells, I couldn't tell how many and I didn't want to disturb them to much so I just slid the frame back in. The day after when I checked 39 out of 48 cells were being drawn out. Heck of a success rate for a first time try.

    Some things I think I did wrong that I will remedy next time: I should've shaken about 3 or 4 frames of additional nurse bees through a queen excluder shaker box to raise the number of nurse bees. Stupid on my part not to have done this but I was out of equipment and couldn't make a shaker box. I should have placed a frame of pollen next to my grafts instead of a frame of honey but again, stupid on my part I was unprepared. Will have a remedy for this next time I go to graft. I also plan on placing the plastic cells in a hive for a day or two so the bees can polish them but I liked the idea of priming them with a little bit of distilled water then shaking the water out so the larva has something to slide off onto. Technically I think if you do the graft right you should be scooping up the larva inside the royal jelly already in the cell and then sliding the whole ensemble into the cell as though you were moving an egg with the yolk. Envisioning an egg with the larva as the yolk really helped while I was grafting because as I was grafting I attempted to make sure I scooped up the royal jelly as well as the larva not just the larva.

    All in all, relax try a couple of different methods and use the one that works for you. This one worked for me. It was described to me by Michael Palmer, he also recommended I read Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding by Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. and Robert E. Page Jr. As well as Beekeeping at the Buckfast Abby by Brother Adam. Both really excellent reads, Personally I think Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding is a must own if you're raising queens.

    My $0.02, hope this helps.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,693

    Default Re: grafting

    Good to see another Wyoming beekeeper! You and I are only about 4 and a half hours apart. You are very informative and descriptive. Just what I need. Your 80% acceptance is alot better than my 5% or 6%!

    I was using the Chinese grafting tools, but the tongues kept breaking, bending, and splitting, so I am currently using a standard metal grafting tool.
    I guess there are probably a few larva that I accidentally scrape against the side of the cell, but not many if any.
    I am doing my best to keep them moist during transfer. I have tried priming (although it didn't work), and I also wrap them in a warm (not hot) wet (not dripping) towel.
    From the time I take the larva out of the breeder hive(s) to the time the go into the cell builder is 15-20 minutes.
    When I set up my cell builder, I use a five frame nuc. This is the order I place the frames in: honey-pollen-grafts-openbrood-sealedbrood. I make sure it is queenless for at least 12 hours before placing the grafts in. I also shake 2-4 extra frames of nurse bees into the nuc to get it packed full of nurse bees. There are literally 6 frames of bees in the five-frame nuc.

    I really like the idea of priming with distilled water. Easy and simple. The only "cold, hard" book I've read on the subject is "Rearing Queen Honey Bees" by Roger Morse, but I have also read a boatload of info from the internet. So I have a few new ideas to try and I will implement them soon. Thanks so much! Any other comments?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Auburn, Washington, USA
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    304

    Default Re: grafting

    Take a sharp knife and put it in the boiling water. Cut parallel to the foundation and slice most of the cell walls off the cells from which you want to harvest larvae, leaving only the bottom with the larvae untouched. That way there is no scraping of the little girls as you take them out; just scoop and gently let go into the cup, scoop and gently let go.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
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    1,620

    Default Re: grafting

    It sounds like you are doing everything right. I wonder if you are getting larva just a little too big. My acceptance rate has went way up the past three grafts by using only the smallest larva I could find. They are just a very small clear pool of fluid. If the fluid has already started to turn white they are starting to get too big. I have gotten better at seeing the really small ones after a few grafting rounds. Thats the only thing you may recheck it sounds like you have the right idea. Just keep trying you will get it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
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    1,620

    Default Re: grafting

    Oh Adam does have a good point. I do take a small screw driver and break down part of the outside cell wall so I can get the grafting tool down under the larva easier. Sliceing off part of the cells would accoplish the same thing.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,423

    Default Re: grafting

    The most important thing to getting cells accepted is the density of bees in the starter...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenre...tm#cellstarter
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Spokane, Washington, USA
    Posts
    707

    Default Re: grafting

    I have noticed that destroying any natural cells raises the acceptance and I tend to give starters only capped brood that way they have no choice but to go with your grafts. Also my starter is a 20 frame hive packed into a single deep that way I can do 120 grafts at a time and still have large quality cells. The amount of bees really matters.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,693

    Default Re: grafting

    Thanks you all so much for all your replies so far. (this doesn't mean you can't reply anymore. ) SunnyBee, I am terribly sorry for hijacking the thread like this. I hope you can learn from it too. Thanks!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
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    3,543

    Default Re: grafting

    ...you know.that if you flip.the larvae it will drown?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,693

    Default Re: grafting

    All right folks,
    A pretty sorry update!
    GRRRRRRR!!!
    I went out to check my grafts, and I got exactly 2 queen cells out of 48 grafts. I would think I could not have possibly done anything wrong!
    - I had the cell cups in the cell builder for 36 hour before grafting for polishing.
    - I purchased a "headset" magnifier, and that helped get the youngest larva possible.
    - I made extra sure not to "flip" any larva.
    - I had three cell bars on the frame, two bars of which were primed with warmer lukewarm distilled water: I'm pretty sure it wasn't too hot or too cold; and the last one was not primed.
    - I was extra careful not to scrape the larva against the side of the cell on the way up.
    - The cell builder was queenless for 72 hours and I made very sure that there were no natural Q cells in the cell builder before placing the grafts in.
    - I had all the frames in proper order.
    - I had an extremely high density of bees in the cell builder.
    So I guess if there is nothing else I can do, I will keep trying. It's getting awfully discouraging though. I will do some more research too. Any extra input? Thanks all.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Utah,Utah,USA
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: grafting

    westernbeekeeper, sounds like your are using a good cell builder. try this out (should eliminate and tell you if it is a grafting issue or something else) see how it works. No grafting, starts at 7:00 min. to 8:30 you don't need the split cell cups you can stick them to the cell bar with a little wax. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZlQ7...eature=related

    Take some pictures of your cell builder and such so we can get a better idea of what migh be going on. Feed the cell builder pollen sub and syrup as while it waits for 24 hours before grafts and during cell building.

    You may have already read this but David makes some good points in his blog. http://doorgarden.com/11/simple-hone...-for-beginners

    Keep trying, you will get it figured out one way or another.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    jourdanton,texas
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: grafting

    Try this graft only 12 cells at a time to get them in before they dry out. This time of the year I move to a little older larva for a better take,there are about 1 and half the length of the egg.Feed about a pint a day,be sure to feed the night before putting them in and continue feed 5 days until cells are capped. Be sure you dont have a virgin queen in box.I grafted 17 last wk 16 finished .Early in the year iwas grafting 45 at a time in two starters. I used Russell SK queens for breeders and I put in over 600 this year .Keep trying you can do it!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,693

    Default Re: grafting

    How do I post pics? Has anyone done it?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,300

    Default Re: grafting

    In my arid area, I get my best takes by grafting in the early morning, just as the sun is rising, the R.H. is usually in the 20% range or higher, a few hours later it is often down to a single digit.

    I set up my cups (primed or not), pull the comb of donor larvae, graft, then place each bar of grafted cups into the cell builder colony, easily within four or five minutes.

    I've just installed air conditioning underneath the mesquite tree where I do my grafting and cell building. It is a high pressure fogging system that drastically lowers the ambient temperature and at the same time raises the R. H. I will soon do another round of grafts, then I shall see if this fogging system will improve my grafting success. I expect that it will.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Athens, greece
    Posts
    134

    Default Re: grafting

    Westernbeekeeper, I had the same problem with you , and here how I solved it.
    I put a frame with eggs, larva and uncapped brood in the builder, and left it for three days.
    Then I grafted, went to the builder and put out the frame with eggs and larva, and IN ITS PLACE, I put the frame with the grafts. Next morning I had 3/4 of the grafts started to QCs.
    Always have sugar syrup and pollen patties.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Winhall, VT
    Posts
    1,066

    Default Re: grafting

    Move up to a full sized cell builder instead of a nuc. A deep on top of a medium. The medium provides a buffer of insulation and you can get a lot more nurse bees into it.

    NO open brood in the cell builder. You want your nurse bees focused on YOUR cells not a bunch of open brood.

    FEED FEED FEED, A strong cell builder will take a gallon of syrup a day even with a flow on. If yours aren't taking down the syrup you don't have enough bees.

    Get a pollen trap. The morning of the graft take an old frame of drawn comb and fill it with pollen. Just pile it on the frame and rub it into the cells till they are full. This is the frame next to your grafts.

    The above tips are what I saw Mike Palmer doing when I worked with him earlier this year. He gets 95-100% acceptance. Good enough for me.
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

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