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  1. #1
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    Default Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    I went to a talk by Gunther Hauk in Charlottesville VA recently and was a bit surprised by some of the blanket statements that he made about modern beekeeping. One that really caught me off guard was that grafted queens are inferior and have lead to many of the problems that bees are facing. I have played around with lots of different styles of queen rearing from moving swarm cells, MDA splitter method, Alley Method, Miller method, Smith method, walk away splits, and grafting and not noticed any difference in the quality of the queens as long as the cell raising hive was strong and well fed. I prefer grafting overall. So I am perplexed how grafting could be so bad if done in the correct conditions. I can't say that I buy his explanation.

    Here is a quote from his blog:
    "In case of the honeybees: they have a weakened immune system due to all the poisons in nature, the reduced diversity of food supply and, of course, all the nasty things we have invented to get more honey. The most serious impact on the colony's health is the way queens are bred commercially from worker larvae. In Rudolf Steiner's bee lectures it becomes clear that the queen is closely connected to the sun-forces due to her short gestation time (16 days). The workers have fallen out of that sun-influence to some degree; the drones are fully earthly beings (hey, they are males!). By breeding queens from worker larvae over 100 years, we have reduced this pure 'sun-being' to have more and more earthly qualities. The manipulated queen has a lowered (spiritual) light-emittence which negatively influences the health and vitality of the entire colony. Therefore these parasitic forces of darkness have better access to the bees. Varroa mites, tracheal mites, small African hive beetle, and now flies!? "
    ----- Gunther Hauk
    http://spikenardhoneybeesanctuary.blogspot.com/

    What do you all think?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Williamson View Post
    The manipulated queen has a lowered (spiritual) light-emittence which negatively influences the health and vitality of the entire colony. Therefore these parasitic forces of darkness have better access to the bees.
    Yeah...I'm gonna hang my hat on this guy's sermon all right
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Back to that old theory if its in the net it must be true!........

    There are lots of ideas out here, some good, some bad. If that one were fully credible it would have already been tested and proven. I belive that nutrition of the hive and feeding of the queen during her development is the most critical factor in her longevity and production.....

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    > that grafted queens are inferior and ...

    Nowhere in the quote from Gunther Hauk above in post #1 is the word "graft" used. Why do you believe the quote is relevant to grafting?
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Ryan - Indeed an appropriate question to call for scientific studies! Also that you bring up "if done in the correct conditions", which greatly closes the gap between the average grafted queen as inferior to [Henry Alley / Jay Smith Method(s), the Cell Punch Method, Mel Disselkoen's MDA Splitter Method, natural swarm and/or supercedure] - produced queens (the latter group tending to often display better % mating and longevity than less-than-ideally grafted queens).

    The same tendency shows up when discussing queen banking and instrumental insemination of honeybee queens as "inferior", when conditions are greatly deviated from "ideal", where feeding interruption and artificial delays before mating are both very important factors.

    For a wonderful essay comparing, contrasting, and evaluating many studies on Instrumentally Inseminated Queens (IIQ's) vs. Naturally-Mated Queens (NMQ's), log onto Dr. Susan Cobey's website,

    www.honeybee.breeding.com,

    click on "About I.I." and read the short article all the way to the bottom, then click on the left side of the last line for a 21-page report that delves into the conditions that have a lot more to do with the end results than the methods of mating. THERE IS MUCH USEFUL INFORMATION REGARDING QUEEN REARING CONDITIONS IN THIS REPORT, as well as numerous of scientific studies to which one may refer. It is, perhaps one of the best reads out there for a queen breeder, whether or not using I.I. (BTW, a big, fat THANK YOU, Dr. Cobey , and the many other scientist/beekeepers involved!) You may wish to print the report and laminate it.

    Another of Dr. Cobey's articles that is of great use is, "The Cloake Board Method of Queen Rearing and Queen Banking", which also helps a great deal in producing better quality queens.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 02-19-2013 at 01:56 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Quite true Rader Sidetrack, I should have mentioned that during the talk he spoke about grafting and "breeding queens from worker larvae" as if they were the same thing. I think that we can call agree that while grafting is not the only way, it is the most commonly used method to produce queens from worker larvae. I pulled the quote as an example of his thinking assuming that "breeding queens from worker larvae" meant grafting like he said in his talk. But even if we are not talking about grafting I still can't see how using under 24hour worker larva that is laid in a horizontal cell is inferior to eggs laid vertical queen cells.
    I just found this article the he wrote which should provide good fun reading for those who want to spend the time:

    http://www.spikenardfarm.org/pdf/IsT...StillRoyal.pdf

    To me it is the conditions of the hive that matter rather than how the larva ended up in a vertical cell. Grafting just happens to be an easy way to do it that many if not most queen breeders use. I know that in my operation I can't just wait for a hive to swarm to provide nucs to my customers.



    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    > that grafted queens are inferior and ...

    Nowhere in the quote from Gunther Hauk above in post #1 is the word "graft" used. Why do you believe the quote is relevant to grafting?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    After about 33 years of grafting and 40 years of queen rearing, and writing one of the most successful books on grafting, Jay Smith wrote this:

    The object of Better Queens is to be helpful to all who rear queens and not to criticize those who use the grafting system. After all, I am criticizing the method I taught in Queen Rearing Simplified, so it is perfectly legitimate to criticize oneself! Many who now are using the grafting system and who want to rear better queens will want the two systems compared. As most beekeepers know, by the grafting method we mean the method in which the larva from a worker cell is transferred to an artificial queen cell. We used that system for 33 years. Not one of those years did we get the fine large cells which are necessary to produce full developed queens throughout the whole season. We found that when there was a light honey flow with plenty of pollen coming in, and if we kept the cell builders up to great strength, we could get a very high percentage of good queens. Even at its best we had to cull cells and virgins and frequently to discard laying queens that were not fully developed. Even then a few inferior queens would get by us which we had to replace. This never happens with our present system. We never have thrown away a cell for being too small, for all are alike. With the present system we have yet to see an undersized virgin. When using the grafting system, when there was no flow, it was well-nigh impossible to get good cells even though we fed sugar by the ton. Not one of those 33 years passed in which I did not long for a system with which I could produce those fine large cells which I had observed in colonies preparing to swarm, a system by which I could produce cells in quantities throughout the entire season.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesbetterq...fting%20Method
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Now I am regretting using the term grafting in my OP when I should have used the broader term of "worker larvae" that Gunther Hauk uses in his writing. I just used grafting as he mentioned it in his talk and as it is the most common way to raise queens from worker larvae. As I understand his argument he would still criticize the Jay Smith method as it still uses worker larvae and eggs that were laid in an horizontal position and then moved to a vertical position. That is the part I can't understand.

    Michael can I ask which method you use these days?

    http://www.spikenardfarm.org/pdf/IsT...StillRoyal.pdf


    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    After about 33 years of grafting and 40 years of queen rearing, and writing one of the most successful books on grafting, Jay Smith wrote this:

    The object of Better Queens is to be helpful to all who rear queens and not to criticize those who use the grafting system. After all, I am criticizing the method I taught in Queen Rearing Simplified, so it is perfectly legitimate to criticize oneself! Many who now are using the grafting system and who want to rear better queens will want the two systems compared. As most beekeepers know, by the grafting method we mean the method in which the larva from a worker cell is transferred to an artificial queen cell. We used that system for 33 years. Not one of those years did we get the fine large cells which are necessary to produce full developed queens throughout the whole season. We found that when there was a light honey flow with plenty of pollen coming in, and if we kept the cell builders up to great strength, we could get a very high percentage of good queens. Even at its best we had to cull cells and virgins and frequently to discard laying queens that were not fully developed. Even then a few inferior queens would get by us which we had to replace. This never happens with our present system. We never have thrown away a cell for being too small, for all are alike. With the present system we have yet to see an undersized virgin. When using the grafting system, when there was no flow, it was well-nigh impossible to get good cells even though we fed sugar by the ton. Not one of those 33 years passed in which I did not long for a system with which I could produce those fine large cells which I had observed in colonies preparing to swarm, a system by which I could produce cells in quantities throughout the entire season.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesbetterq...fting%20Method
    Last edited by Ryan Williamson; 02-19-2013 at 09:07 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    >Michael can I ask which method you use?

    Mostly I graft. I also use a Jenter box and I have done, and may do more, of the Hopkins method. I don't think anyone can tell the difference between a queen raised from an egg laid in the horizontal position or the vertical position. The real question is how old a larva can be and not make any difference in the quality. That and if we do any harm to a larvae when grafting. Smith would probably say part of the issue is also how long they are without/short of food while we are grafting them.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    After about 33 years of grafting and 40 years of queen rearing, and writing one of the most successful books on grafting, Jay Smith wrote this:

    The object of Better Queens is to be helpful to all who rear queens and not to criticize those who use the grafting system. After all, I am criticizing the method I taught in Queen Rearing Simplified, so it is perfectly legitimate to criticize oneself! Many who now are using the grafting system and who want to rear better queens will want the two systems compared. As most beekeepers know, by the grafting method we mean the method in which the larva from a worker cell is transferred to an artificial queen cell. We used that system for 33 years. Not one of those years did we get the fine large cells which are necessary to produce full developed queens throughout the whole season. We found that when there was a light honey flow with plenty of pollen coming in, and if we kept the cell builders up to great strength, we could get a very high percentage of good queens. Even at its best we had to cull cells and virgins and frequently to discard laying queens that were not fully developed. Even then a few inferior queens would get by us which we had to replace. This never happens with our present system. We never have thrown away a cell for being too small, for all are alike. With the present system we have yet to see an undersized virgin. When using the grafting system, when there was no flow, it was well-nigh impossible to get good cells even though we fed sugar by the ton. Not one of those 33 years passed in which I did not long for a system with which I could produce those fine large cells which I had observed in colonies preparing to swarm, a system by which I could produce cells in quantities throughout the entire season.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesbetterq...fting%20Method
    Jay Smith is not presenting his statement as a scientific study, but the numbers sure speak volumes, don't they? Thanks for posting this, MB

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Williamson View Post
    The manipulated queen has a lowered (spiritual) light-emittence which negatively influences the health and vitality of the entire colony. Therefore these parasitic forces of darkness have better access to the bees.
    I have to confess that when I read terms like the "(spiritual) light-emittence" and "these parasitic forces of darkness" being applied to bugs, I fail to see the light. I wonder what that says about my darkness?
    Old Guy in Alabama

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    Jay Smith is not presenting his statement as a scientific study, but the numbers sure speak volumes, don't they?
    What numbers? 33 years raising queens?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post

    The object of Better Queens is to be helpful to all who rear queens and not to criticize those who use the grafting system. After all, I am criticizing the method I taught in Queen Rearing Simplified, so it is perfectly legitimate to criticize oneself! Many who now are using the grafting system and who want to rear better queens will want the two systems compared. As most beekeepers know, by the grafting method we mean the method in which the larva from a worker cell is transferred to an artificial queen cell. We used that system for 33 years. Not one of those years did we get the fine large cells which are necessary to produce full developed queens throughout the whole season. We found that when there was a light honey flow with plenty of pollen coming in, and if we kept the cell builders up to great strength, we could get a very high percentage of good queens. Even at its best we had to cull cells and virgins and frequently to discard laying queens that were not fully developed. Even then a few inferior queens would get by us which we had to replace. This never happens with our present system. We never have thrown away a cell for being too small, for all are alike. With the present system we have yet to see an undersized virgin. When using the grafting system, when there was no flow, it was well-nigh impossible to get good cells even though we fed sugar by the ton. Not one of those 33 years passed in which I did not long for a system with which I could produce those fine large cells which I had observed in colonies preparing to swarm, a system by which I could produce cells in quantities throughout the entire season.
    Well, I have to disagree. I haven't raised queens for 33 years or 40 years, but I raise quality queens, and in my opinion...Inferior cells come from inferior cell builders, poor grafting techniques, and/or poor flow conditions. To say that non-grafting techniques used during poor flow conditions will yield quality cells is wrong. Bee don't graft, and they don't raise cells under dearth conditions unless they are forced to... emergency queens.

    Why do you think?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    I don't raise queens and certainly don't know as much about queen rearing as do most of the rest of you, but, all other things being equal, isn't the proof of the queen in how successfully mated she was? Isn't it a well produced virgin queen which gets mated w/ by a sufficient number of drones which produces a quality queen?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    I have no idea what this Sun creature and Earthly being thing is supposed to be about. Although it all sounds hokey to me I do suspect there is something specific that defines this difference. he can call it whatever he likes.

    I do get a general idea that he thinks that there is a difference between worker larva and queen larva. I suspect he believes this difference is present from the moment the egg is layed?

    I have asked questions in regard to this myself. All responses have been that all eggs are treated the same up to day three after hatching. I then saw one claim that the jelly fed to queens is different form the moment of hatching.

    So far I am undecided on this three day factor and just what is being fed. after that there is no question a queen larva is treated differently.

    In all I see some merit in this thinking that a larvae that spent 1 day or even one moment on a food intended for a worker bee will influence the quality of a queen produced from that larva.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    There should be only a minute amount of difference since both queens and eggs come from the same source of fertilized eggs and if a worker larvae is grafted at the optimum time it hasn't had the opportunity to consume very much brood food before it is put into a queen cup and then into a colony which feeds it what it needs to grow.

    Michael, help me out here?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Inferior cells come from inferior cell builders, poor grafting techniques, and/or poor flow conditions. To say that non-grafting techniques used during poor flow conditions will yield quality cells is wrong. Bee don't graft, and they don't raise cells under dearth conditions unless they are forced to... emergency queens.
    Why do you think?
    I couldn't agree more. I think a good grafter is using larvae less than 6 hours old. I have trouble believing the bees are doing much better than that and if they are that it could really make much of a difference. A good builder will raise uniformly large cells which tells me that the 5 minute old larvae is developing almost identically to the 5 hour old one. From that point raising quality virgins relates to using optimal builders in optimal conditions and not to overtax those builders.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    Mark I woudl tend to agree except you are talking about something that is fed 1500 times a day. that is on average once every minute or less. and a creature that will grow some 5000 times it's original size in 18 days??? I am not sure on that number. at any rate it is an extremely accelerated rate in which 24 hours is comparable to a year for us. Could you expect to feed an infant inadequate food for a year and have it develop correctly? I am also not looking at does it work which obviously it does. the method supplies the world with queens. But are the best of queens damaged goods regardless. That is a lot harder to evaluate.

    So for the sake of discussion and contemplating. lets say there is a difference in the jelly fed to workers and that fed to queen larva. And that each two hours the larva remains on that worker jelly is like an human infant spending one month on poor quality formula.

    Michael already has helped in this regard with this comment above about quality breeders giving attention to their methods. Or that is my way of saying what I understand he is saying.

    Some queens are reared by someone take a frame of open brood and searching for young larva. In this method there is no real way to know the age of the larva and I woudl consider it a lower quality method of obtaining larva. other breeders take measures to know the oldest possible age of the larva and graft them on a day of known age. maybe not to the hour. but if pressed I bet they could take a fair stab at estimating it.

    So could a breeder control the laying of eggs in cells to the degree they could insure no larva was more than 6 hours old at the time of grafting? Comparable to 3 months of poor nutrition for an infant. Could they insure no more than 12 hour old larva? Should they? this is not an issue of no nutrition and I suspect few quality breeders are grafting larvae much older than 24 hours. All of the that I have read their comment take some measures to know the age of the larvae.

    And finally is it even true there is a difference. if ti is how much of a difference? so in the end is it something big enough to even worry about. it is something so important it could be causing problems in the bees overall. For me the issue starts getting some pretty big shoes to fill. It starts loosing readability the more things I add for it to be responsible for. Okay so maybe we have some slightly mal nourished queens. That is not genetic and will not be carried on and compounded. So the next generation gets grafted at one hour and you scrub the slate clean.

    Overall I am not seeing my own argument holding up will over time. random poor queens maybe. decline of the honey bee. I don't think it is even possible over an issue of nutrition. starvation does not alter genetics. only the transmission of those genetics. A starved poor health queen still carries the same genes they are not altered one bit.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    It's not hard to recognize and pass over 24 hour old larvae. The newly hatched larvae are in very close proximity to eggs. if you are taking more than a few hundred out of a hive and if they are getting too easy to see then you are probably grafting overly mature larvae.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Is there any scientific evidence that grafted queens are inferior?

    I don't pretent to think we can do anything as good or better than nature. If we look at early raised spring queens the percentage of them which are supersceded is much higher than we see in mid season queens raised under ideal conditions. We've learned from recent studies naturally mated queens produce more phermones and thus are more successful than artificially insemintated queens. Does that outweigh the advantages of genetics in the long run? Walter Kelly made the statement he never purchased an artificially mated breeder queen that showed him anything better than an open mated queen. Having said that, I find our queen rearing (now done with EZI) mimics what we find in a natural setting as "naturally raised" queens and is directly related to the conditions the cells are raised in. We inevitably due to the mangement we use, have hives that move into swarm mode at the same time we are raising our queens and we see cells of different sizes within the same hive. We see swarm queens that can be inferior just as grafted/transferred queens can. I don't think as Mr. Hauk states the bees are "asking" us anything. I think they respond to conditions in a uniform and predictable manner and always do the best they can under the given conditions, thus surviving for millenia. Consistently the best queens and some of our most successful hives have artifically raised queens raised and bred during ideal conditions.

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