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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Drain, OR
    Posts
    425

    Default First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    OK, so I took a strong nuc coloney that consisted of 2 5-frame deeps and a 5 frame medium. I moved all sealed brood and the queen down to the bottom box, and put a queen excluder on. The next deep was the left over open brood, then the medium on top. 5 days later I inserted the cell builder frame for them to polish. 2 days after that I removed the bottom nuc with the queen, and removed the cell builder frame and grafted into the attached 24 wax cups that I had made. I did the grafting outside, using a chinese grafting tool. While I'm sure my early ones might have damaged some of the larva, I thought I was getting better as I went. I put a damp towel over cells I had grafted into as I went. The frame I was pulling larva from was just out in the open. It probably took me 20 minutes or so to pull the larva for grafting. Right after grafting I dropped the builder frame back in my cell builder colony. I checked 2 days later and no cells were started. I know the larva were likely the right age. I looked for areas where eggs transitioned into larve, and I only took the smallest ones right next to eggs. Some had only clear liquid in them, others had a bit of white liquid with it. Yesterday was when I checked, I should have 3 day old cells now, but don't.

    Any clues what might have gone wrong? I guess I need to just jump back in the saddle and graft another batch tonight? Should I clean out the cell cups I made at all? How? Do I need to re-prep my cell builder colony at all? I was so hopeful! And the genetics I'm trying to propagate are awesome, I really hope I can walk away with 6-8 queens here soon...
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,467

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    I only do queenless starters. When I do queenright finishers (and I usually don't) I have at least one box of honey between the box with the queen (on the bottom with an excluder over it) and the box with the cells (top with some open brood on each side of the cells). There are two important aspects to a starter:

    1) queenless
    2) LITERALLY overflowing with bees

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,861

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    Did you check the upper box (the one with your graphs) for queen cells? I have been surprised at how rough I can treat the larva and still get queens. The only reasons that I can think of that would cause you problems are that they have other cells available to make a queen from or that all of your larva were damaged. I suppose it would be possible that a person could graft from a drone larva area, but pretty doubtful.

    What I do for my cell builder is put the queen and capped brood in the bottom box, then excluder, then top box with all open brood. I wait 9 days then check both boxes for any queen cells and then move the bottom box and queen to a different place in the yard. I shake a few frames of nurse bees from the box with the queen into the box where the graphs are going. Then I shake 3-4 more frames of nurse bees from another hive into the host box. Then I wait 24 hours.

    The cell builder will have bees crawling all over it looking for a queen. There is no open brood in the hive at this point. I add a feeder. 24 hours later I add my graphs in a slot left the day before next to a frame of pollen.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Drain, OR
    Posts
    425

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    So maybe add more bees, and check for an errant queen cell... I think I should be queen cell free. The excluder was in place more then 4 days, so there shouldn't have been any viable eggs. The colony is a little more hopelessly queenless now, so maybe once I add a few more frames of nurse bees they will be even more motivated.

    hmmmm Can't wait to try again
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,861

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    I would think that if you had viable larva and no queen or queen cells that you would get at least one cell with any amount of bees. Did you actually look for queen cells before adding your grafts? You can easily see which cells have been accepted in 24 hours, so you don't have to wait long to check.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Drain, OR
    Posts
    425

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    Basically I took the queen away at the time I grafted. Before then she was trapped in the bottom box under an excluder. I didn't look at all my frames though, I just removed my cell builder frame, grafted into it, then replaced it. I'll check in 24 next time. Does the amount of royal jelly I move into the cell cups have an impact? If there is very little clear fluid with the larva is that OK?
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Drain, OR
    Posts
    425

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    OK follow up. Queen cells were in the upper medium and a few on one frame of the lower nuc. I moved the medium off to it's own spot to raise a queen, then smashed the queen cells on the frame in the nuc. I re-grafted, and then shook in 5 or so frames of nurse bees from donor colonies. One was the medium, and then I shook two frames from a different colony through an excluder after eyeballing them. So hopefully no queen being shook in. In hind sight it seems obvious, lesson learned I guess. It seems like the queen cells in the builder were started when I put the excluder on. Is that typical? Can't wait to check the grafts tomorrow. What a great new way to learn to love the bees!
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,415

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    yeah, you want your starter to be hopelessly queenless. Shaking bees on drawn comb with a frame of pollen and nectar works well, leave them sealed up overnight, then put the grafts into them. The ohio country boy has a pretty good vid on the concept.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Nelson, South Island, New Zealand
    Posts
    500

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    You also need to make the starter queenless at least a few hours before grafting so they know they are queenless. I like to wait 24 hrs after taking the queen out.

    If you grafted and made the hive queenless at the same time the bees wouldn't have had time to notice the queen was gone as her pheromone would still be present in the hive

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,861

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    Anytime that you have an excluder between a queen and eggs you have a good chance to find cells. I have had two experiences where queen cells were made in my cell builder and I hadn't checked. Both times I had no take on grafts. One was just a cell builder I made with capped (I thought) brood and once was with a Cloake Board.

    I leave my cell builder queenless with a feeder for 24 hours before adding grafting bars. You can tell they are desperate. Bees crawl all over the outside of the hive and bees are flying over and around the hive right up until dark looking for a queen.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,467

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    > Does the amount of royal jelly I move into the cell cups have an impact?

    Yes.

    > If there is very little clear fluid with the larva is that OK?

    No. It means they are not being fed well. Maybe you need to feed the colony to get the larvae fed better.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Drain, OR
    Posts
    425

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    Thanks for the feedback everyone, I've learned a lot Hopefully I'll have picture of some cells tonight to post!
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Auburn, Washington, USA
    Posts
    302

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    Just getting on your discussion. When my grafts mostly fail to take (let's assume 2 out 10), I just regraft into the 8 empty cups the next day and they take to them right away. Sometimes it takes them a while to get their heads on straight, but I find that feeding them is really important.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Drain, OR
    Posts
    425

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    Woo Hoo.. Popped the cell builder frame out quickly and saw at least 5 or 6 had taken. I didn't count, there might have been more. I'll take any I can get though and call it a success. The 14th I'll move the cells into a queen castle and some nucs. Can't wait
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Drain, OR
    Posts
    425

    Default Re: First grafting attempt failed, any clues why?

    I didn't feed them. I guess I should have, or maybe still should. There is a decent nectar flow on I believe. Our blackberries are just heading into full bloom, and I see my colonies bringing in nectar.

    So a different question.... I have 2 'production' colonies I want to re-queen with these genetics. Should I kill the queen and then place a cell in the colony? Or put a cell up in the supers and leave the queen alone? Or raise the queen in a castle until it's laying and proven, then introduce?...
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

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