Raising Queen Cells Without Grafting
After some discussions on other threads Iíve done this thread to show with pictures a way to raise queen cells without grafting.
It is called the Cut Cell Method and is based on what Jay Smith did, although is not identical.
I also want to say upfront that there are many ways to raise queens. This is a way that suits me, after using many methods. But any experienced queen breeder will find parts of this method he does differently / doesnít agree with. Comments / critisizms welcome long as it stays friendly!
Also this is a bit different to what I did when raising queens as a full time job, it is more to suit a small scale operation, wishing to raise from perhaps a dozen to perhaps a thousand queens per year.
Also a couple of bits of equipment are shown, a swarm box, and a breeder hive. However if you donít have these, explanations are given how to do it with no special equipment.
Day 0. (Wednesday) This pic shows a bar with a bit of foundation being put into the breeder hive. You can see the hive is sectioned off with a queen excluder and the queen is in the part that fits three frames.
When I was breeding queens full time we used a purpose built breeder hive that was a bit different but the principle is the same. The queen is kept in a small area which encourages her to lay straight away in the comb we put in, plus it extends her life because she is not laying as many eggs.
Day 1. (Thursday) The next day if the hive is vigorous the bees have drawn the foundation and there are eggs in it. (And some drone comb built). The comb is removed and put over the other side of the excluder for the bees to look after for the next few days.
For those who do not want to set up a breeder hive as pictured, just take the queen and two full combs from the hive you want to breed from and leave them in the hive with the bar of foundation in the middle. Move the rest of the hive away just a few yards. 24 hours later the hive can be put back together and the comb should have eggs in it and can be stored over an excluder. If the bees might not draw the foundation fast enough, it could be put in a hive for a day or two to be drawn, before being put in with the queen.
Day 4.(Sunday) The comb now has eggs starting to hatch. It is in the shed ready for cutting.
44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).