After my first grafting attempt here are a few observations that I offer in the hopes of helping others in their attempts at grafting.
1) Before you start, have your queen cups in the grafting bars, have your wet rag to put over the grafted cups and have your grafting tool, headlight, etc. all in place before you go get your frame of brood.
2) THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART>>>>Follow Randy Oliver’s advice and do the grafting in a darkened room and wear some form of magnifying eye ware and an LED camping type headlight (the brighter the better). Without the dark and the LED aid my 60 year old eyes couldn’t see anything. Youth is wasted on the young. I hate the YouTube of the guy grafting outside in the sunlight!!! LOL. With the magnifier and LED it is text book clear what you have in front of you.
3) Once you get used to seeing what is in front of you there really is a marked progression starting at the center with capped brood, then really big uncapped larva, then smaller uncapped larva, then really new smaller larva (these are what you want to graft) and then eggs. Or find the eggs and then take the larva next to them. This is not new information just confirming the known for us neophytes.
4) There is a learning curve in using the Chinese grafting tool. Here are my 2 cents worth:
a) Don’t be timid, shove the grafting tool in with some force or you won’t get any royal jelly with the larva
b) Imagine you are putting in the grafting tool at 6 o’clock on the cell and the bendable end of the tool hits bottom, bends and scoops up the larva and the jelly. Now, before you start to withdraw the tool, make sure the tool is back to six o’clock and you are pulling straight up. At first I was pulling out the grafting tool and losing contents to the 12 o’clock side of the cell as the end was too far away from six o’clock. In other words straight in, hit the bottom and have the end of the grafting tool bend and then straight back out.
Practice your Zen like tai chi slow movements, it is easy to bang things around.
As my mom used to say “Do as I say, not as I do!” I unfortunately violated most all of these observations in my first attempt. Maybe my first attempt will be a “Good bad example”.
I transferred 25 larva and in a few days we will see. Put my frame of grafts in the second super above a Queen excluder in a hive of two deep, 10 frame supers with a honey super on top, “Harden” style. I’m just trying to raise a few queens for use on our cherry orchard. Let the games begin!
Thanks to the experienced beekeepers on this forum. I really appreciate the knowledge and experience that is so freely shared on this forum.