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  1. #1
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    May 2009
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    Default Trying it again-one question

    I am going to try grafting again tomorrow. I have a very strong starter set up which is one place I went wrong last time. My question is how fast do I need to work? I did a little research and saw something about having to get the cell bar(s) back into the hive in 10 minutes or less? I am doing 12 cell cups on three bars and I know I'll never get these grafts done and have the frame back in the hive in 10 minutes. I'll be llucky to get a single bar done in 10 minutes. The weather will be wram but not too hot and I'll use a damp towel to cover the grafts and the humidity will be high as usual.
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    1,842

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Doing more grafting will increase your chance of an acceptance.
    Try 10 cells on each bar for a total of 20 cells on 2 bars. If they rejected
    8 then you still have some to choose from.
    Another way is to reduce the time by returning the bar back into the hive
    after 5 grafts.
    I luv bee source!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Hampstead, NC USA
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    608

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    I grafted again today. I was able to get it done faster than ten minutes. I did one bar at a time and installed them as I finished them. I used a hypodermic needle that I saw on youtube. It's a 20 gauge needle that is used for swine etc. I bent it and put a little wooden stick on it and it was a complete joy compared to the chinese tool I tried last time. The key for me was using a magnifying visor with a small led light. I could see the tiniest larvae. These larvae were almost transparent and must have been hatched only a few hours prior. They were all surrounding eggs on a frame that I put in with a queen about a week ago. It was a take out and there was no sealed brood so I know these were super young larvae. I was using some JZBZ cups that I grafted into on my first attempt. I cleaned them and put a light coat of capping wax on them. Swirled them around and all the other goofy stuf I've read that either does or does not help. I put the bars in the starter for about 8 hours prior to grafting but I don't know if the bees did anything to the cups.
    I guess I'll see tomorrow how they treated them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    3,790

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    It sounds like you did great. How do you yourself feel you did? I'm rooting for great acceptance of your cells... fingers crossed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Hampstead, NC USA
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    608

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    It sounds like you did great. How do you yourself feel you did? I'm rooting for great acceptance of your cells... fingers crossed.
    Thanks for asking. I somehow feel it will be a complete failure. Two attempts doesn't seem like enough trial. If things go better than 50% I'll be shocked. I suppose the two big things that I am sure I messed up in my first attempt are a too weak starter and the larvae age being too old. Yes - fingers crossed.
    Thanks

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Hampstead, NC USA
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    608

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Well I messed up again. My starter was a 10 frame deep that was made by putting nurse bees from a double ten frame hive into a single deep and moving it so the foragers would fly back. I guess I misunderstood some things and placed 9 frames of sealed brood and a frame of pollen/unsealed honey. Way too much sealed brood and the cups were completely ignored. I'll make up another starter using a nuc box and drawn comb as well as a frames with some brood and a frame of pollen/unripe honey.
    Still can't call it a complete failure as I was able to make headway in getting better age larvae and getting faster.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Jefferson Co, TX
    Posts
    702

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Challenger - That starter box seems like it fits what they say to do. Maybe give it a 3 to 5 day wait for the capped brood to hatch and you should be overran with nurse bees. Then try to graft. Or at least that is how I understand it. So far you are doing better than I.

    Might have to try to needle trick, do you have a picture?
    Started 9/13, building slowly, now @ 7 Lang hives + 5 nucs, and treatment style not decided yet

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Murray County, Georgia
    Posts
    214

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Put two frames of more mature open brood in your starter hive leaving a slot for your grafts directly under the hole in the top cover and place a jar feeder over the hole in the inner cover. That slot should be filled with nurse bees in a couple of hours. Place your grafts in that slot. You will get 80-90% take on the grafts if the slot is clustered with bees when you put the grafts in.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Hampstead, NC USA
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    608

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Quote Originally Posted by marshmasterpat View Post
    Challenger - That starter box seems like it fits what they say to do. Maybe give it a 3 to 5 day wait for the capped brood to hatch and you should be overran with nurse bees. Then try to graft. Or at least that is how I understand it. So far you are doing better than I.

    Might have to try to needle trick, do you have a picture?
    I don't have a photo or link. I just typed, "queen grafting tool" in YouTube. It was the first one that came up. It doesn't indicate that the video is about using a needle although it should. Even searching for needle, syringe etc doesn't bring it up. I'll take a photo next time I use it either Monday or Tuesday.
    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim B View Post
    Put two frames of more mature open brood in your starter hive leaving a slot for your grafts directly under the hole in the top cover and place a jar feeder over the hole in the inner cover. That slot should be filled with nurse bees in a couple of hours. Place your grafts in that slot. You will get 80-90% take on the grafts if the slot is clustered with bees when you put the grafts in.
    Thanks- get the idea. I just finished taking out an awesome hive from a small roof section over a door leading out to a deck. The work was all from a 6' ladder and the bees built comb from the inside of this little roof from the sheathing down to the plywood that was used as a "ceiling" the bottom of all the comb was even and followed the inside of this plywood so I was able to fit it into frames very easily. Usually this has proven to be a huge mess trying to puzzle fit comb into empty frames but this time it was a treat. I even found the Queen while taking down a large piece of comb. I had my queen clip right in my pocket so that's where she went until I got it back to the house. Tons of brood and honey and I'll use some of this hives resources to graft in the future I'm sure. I finished today because I had to get down yesterday due to other obligations. There was a about 10 lbs of honey and maybe 1/2 frame of brood left. Hanging from these combs was about 10 lbs of bees which I dumped into the failed starter colony. I'm hoping they contain a fair amount of nurse bees. I'm also thinking all the frames of capped brood will supply nurse bees. I'm going to take all these bees and shake them into a 5 frame nuc tomorrow and relocate it to another stand and the foragers should fly back leaving me with nurse bees on a frame of pollen and unripe honey and other frames of drawn comb and I'll put a bottle of 1:1 honey water on it. If it isn't packed with chaining bees I'll add more. That's what you are getting at right? These bees need to have that wax builder clinging look to their mass yes?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    longton, kansas USA
    Posts
    606

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Quote Originally Posted by challenger View Post
    I am going to try grafting again tomorrow. I have a very strong starter set up which is one place I went wrong last time. My question is how fast do I need to work? I did a little research and saw something about having to get the cell bar(s) back into the hive in 10 minutes or less? I am doing 12 cell cups on three bars and I know I'll never get these grafts done and have the frame back in the hive in 10 minutes. I'll be llucky to get a single bar done in 10 minutes. The weather will be wram but not too hot and I'll use a damp towel to cover the grafts and the humidity will be high as usual.
    Thanks
    i tried cell punching twice this season. finally,on my last starter box set up i simply took a frame of eggs and just hatched brood and put it in. waited 2 days and then moved them all to a 5 frame nuc. they are making at least 15 queens right now. i plan to cut them out when they are capped a couple days and moved the qc's to mating boxes. makes more sense to me unless u need a million queens. let THEM choose which larvae fits the bill.

    Just a thought

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,020

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Challenger it sounds like you probably did a good job of the actual graft. But having unsealed brood in the cell starter is a bad plan.

    There's several theories and methods around this, one that some folks do is to have some young unsealed brood in the starter, but remove it at the same time the grafted cells are added. The idea is that the bees are feeding the young larvae so have plenty royal jelly at the time the cells are added.

    However while good in theory this method adds complexity. For me, I have no brood at all in the starter and that works fine plus does not allow problems to happen such as them raising queen cells on the brood. On that subject you will have to check the brood that was in your starter, if there was no queen in the starter they would definitely have started some queen cells.

    It is unusual though that they did not even start one of your grafted cells, I am wondering if maybe there was a queen in the starter that you did not know about?

    Also, brand new plastic cells should not be used, acceptance will be poor. The cells should be put in a hive for a couple of days for cleaning prior to the graft.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
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    608

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Challenger it sounds like you probably did a good job of the actual graft. But having unsealed brood in the cell starter is a bad plan.

    There's several theories and methods around this, one that some folks do is to have some young unsealed brood in the starter, but remove it at the same time the grafted cells are added. The idea is that the bees are feeding the young larvae so have plenty royal jelly at the time the cells are added.

    However while good in theory this method adds complexity. For me, I have no brood at all in the starter and that works fine plus does not allow problems to happen such as them raising queen cells on the brood. On that subject you will have to check the brood that was in your starter, if there was no queen in the starter they would definitely have started some queen cells.

    It is unusual though that they did not even start one of your grafted cells, I am wondering if maybe there was a queen in the starter that you did not know about?

    Also, brand new plastic cells should not be used, acceptance will be poor. The cells should be put in a hive for a couple of days for cleaning prior to the graft.
    Thanks. Actually they did start one single cell out of 42. It is so puny I wasn't going to admit to it. Today I will graft again after I shake the bees into a 5 frame and eliminate the frames of sealed brood. I'm optimist for today because I think the poor starter set up was to blame for the most recent failure. If there doesn't seem to bee enough young bees with developed wax glands I'll wait. I put the cell frame in for the last several days so they should have the cups cleaned properly. I am using Jzbz cups that were dipped in liquid capping wax and shaken off.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    3,072

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Challenger, Grafting and rearing has been a long process of getting each step down for me.

    First came grafting just as you are working on. But your method and it's results can easily get clouded because those results are also dependent on so many other factors.

    As for the cell builder. Add capped brood not open brood. What you are looking for is new nurse bees being supplied to the cell builder.

    I took my strongest hive and added 10 frames of capped brood to it. I then waited 10 days for that brood to emerge. What I had by then was a hive 4 to 5 boxes tall but boiling over with bees. I then made it queenless by splitting two of the boxes off that had the queen in it. The box wit those frames of brood was left with the cell builder. This makes it so the queenless heavily populated part of the hive will not swarm. I also d not want this part of the hive to have any brood to feed but my cells.

    It took me a few tries to get the cell builder right. it is a crazy strong hive that is needed.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Hampstead, NC USA
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    608

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    Challenger, Grafting and rearing has been a long process of getting each step down for me.

    First came grafting just as you are working on. But your method and it's results can easily get clouded because those results are also dependent on so many other factors.

    As for the cell builder. Add capped brood not open brood. What you are looking for is new nurse bees being supplied to the cell builder.

    I took my strongest hive and added 10 frames of capped brood to it. I then waited 10 days for that brood to emerge. What I had by then was a hive 4 to 5 boxes tall but boiling over with bees. I then made it queenless by splitting two of the boxes off that had the queen in it. The box wit those frames of brood was left with the cell builder. This makes it so the queenless heavily populated part of the hive will not swarm. I also d not want this part of the hive to have any brood to feed but my cells.

    It took me a few tries to get the cell builder right. it is a crazy strong hive that is needed.
    Thanks for the input. I shook the starter I had made into a nuc box this am. It is packed with young bees. They are clearly behaving much differently than when all were in a 10 frame. I put in a frame of open honey/pollen and another frame of honey comb that is chuncked up from a take out I did. Then just two other frames almost empty. About ten minutes after I did this I opened it to insert the graft bar frame and they were clinging all over. I came back about 5 hours later when I was ready to graft and they were chained all over the bar frame and putting new wax on the edges of the cups. When I grafted I did one bar at a time. When input the last one in the bar was almost solid with bees and they were feeding the first bar I put in big time. Definitely a much more queen cell attentive crowd now.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,020

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Sounds like you'll get good results on this one. Just ensure they do not suffocate.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Murray County, Georgia
    Posts
    214

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    "I came back about 5 hours later when I was ready to graft and they were chained all over the bar frame and putting new wax on the edges of the cups."

    Having so many nurse bees that they are clinging to the cell bar is the key. I think you could use a three frame nuc stuffed with nurse bees and get forty or so grafts started at a time. It is not so much a matter of the total number of bees in the hive but how concentrated they are on the bar. They also have to be lactating (for lack of a better word) at the time the grafts are placed and desperate for a queen so that they will find and start feeding immediately or many will not be found, will be neglected and perish within a short time. All that said, if I only need five to ten cells then I have no problem sneaking a bar of ten to thirteen into a nuc that I have just pulled a queen from and usually get a lower rate of success but I get all I need and I do not have to go to the trouble of setting up a starter.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    972

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Curiously, this year almost all my accepted queen cells were with larvae from 82 to 86 hours after eggs were laid by the breeder queen (=10 to 14 hours after the chorion egg shell should have dissolved and the baby becomes a larva).

    Usually, my best grafts are 6 to 10 hours after becoming a larva (78 to 82 hours).

    Could be that temperature had something to do with it. Also, my last bar grafted usually has the best % take - probably skill and speed coming up with repetition.. I do 1 bar at a time, put the frame in the Cell Starter colony, graft the next bar, add it to the frame, place it back into the Cell Starter, graft the 3rd bar, add it to the frame, place it back in the colony.

    BTW, my eyesight is pretty bad. I wear +275 reading glasses, and either a 7x loupe or hold a magnifying glass and a flashlight in one hand and the grafting tool in the other, so getting it done in less that 10 minutes is always a challenge. A good frame of open brood the right age is a huge help! Isolating the queen on one frame of empty comb 80 to 85 hours before grafting makes it much easier. Cutting the comb down to just above the royl jelly also helps a lot.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 05-26-2014 at 05:32 PM.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    1,842

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Isolating the queen on 1 frame of empty comb with plastic cups on the other side for a direct laying will do nicely too.
    No need to do grafting of larvae anymore on the 4th days. Grafting takes too much time and not good for the poor eye sight.
    I luv bee source!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Ojai, California
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    972

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    Yeah, a Jenter box is exactly that, and should be a lot easier. I'll probably try one next year.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Hampstead, NC USA
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    608

    Default Re: Trying it again-one question

    The bees were covering the three cell bars last PM a short time after I installed them. This AM I decided to move the top a little to give them some more air. I have them in a nuc with an entrance hole that is about 1/2"X1-1/2".
    As I walked up to the nuc I saw a lot of activity and before I could take a step toward it I got nailed in the face between the bridge of my nose and my eye which made my mood less than agreeable. I figured I just got in the way of a foraging bee because the yard has 15 hives and the bees are flying in and out hard. I got a bit closer and sure enough the nuc was getting robbed and they were all pissed off. Not as pissed off as I was/am though. I opened the lid and there were about 10% of the bees as last PM. I suspect the robbing made the nuc decide to defend themselves but I don't even know if they would put up much of a fight being that they don't have a queen or brood to protect.
    Maybe this is one drawback to using a nuc? The cells were all but abandoned. Maybe 5 of the 42 I put in had bee clinging and feeding. Back to the drawing board. Now I have to figure out what to do with my starter. Prop it up with more nurse bees or will they get robbed out? Prop it up AND move it AND keep the cover on tighter? I am concerned about them getting enough air so do I open it and fear for robbers? I'd love to find a solution because I am getting discouraged and I need queens. My hives are jammed with bees and too many frames of honey so it is prime time for splitting. I am not going to buy queens even if it means that I have to combine queenless hives with others which would make for some 3-4 high hives until I get bred queens. I have had terrible luck with all purchased queens other than 1 NJ breeder. They are not selling queens for a while and the number I need will be too much $.
    Trial and error over and over again. I need some trial and success. Never hear of that do we?

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