Favorite Grafting Tool?
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  1. #1
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    Default Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Going to try my hand at grafting once more this year. I wouldn't say my efforts were abysmal last year, but I just never really got along with the chinese grafting tool well. Part of the problem I found being foundationless was the tip seemed to gouge the wax before bending. If I can get the chinese tool to work, I'm sure it's a fine tool, but I'm thinking of trying out others. Any suggestions?
    Season 5. TF.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    I sorted though the 10 I got off of eBay. I found three that were more supple than the rest. I scraped the bamboo on another until it was quite thin. Supple and thin, don't
    ~25 hives, 8 frame-medium; pacific coast; zone 8b; long, cool, wet winter; mild summer; 90" avg. rainfall

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Yes, newer wax combs that have not been used for brooding for years maybe more supple and easier to damage with the Chinese tool. It's my favorite of purchased tools though. I made one by pounding and flat tip on a bent out paper clip once that worked pretty good.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Have you tried the nicot/cupkit system yet? Just ordered one off ebay and will give it a try in my topbar hives this year. My hands shake too bad to graft with any tool, but I did buy 10 of the Chinese grafting tools to clean out the small cups. I plan on carving out some of the wax comb and setting the plastic box in its place in the brood nest. queen should feel right at home...at least that's the theory.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/302166722653...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Use a dark comb that has had several rounds of brood raised in it. Keep the Chinese grafting tool in your mouth to soften the tip.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    paint brush.
    Everything gets darker, as it goes to where there is less light. Darrel Tank (5PM drawing instructor)

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    I prefer the JZ-BZ grafting tool. https://www.mannlakeltd.com/jz-bz-plastic-grafting-tool

    I find it works best if you prime the cells.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    I find it works best if you prime the cells.
    Do you mean priming the cups your grafting into, AstroBee? I dump water into all the cups then shake them out, leaving just a trace of water. Seems to make a huge difference.

    OP, for what it's worth... I originally tried with foundationless combs and I will say that you're probably going to have a bad time with that like I did. Even if you just have a single drawn comb you insert into the middle of the broodnest of the queen you want to graft from maybe 5 days before grafting day with black plastic foundation it will help you out a lot. Otherwise the guys doing cell punching with wax foundation, that seems like a pretty efficient means of using foundationless. Perhaps as MP says if you somehow soften the tip it will work better? But I think mine are plastic (not horn), so I'm not sure if that will help soften anything.

    It's up to your personal preference of course. I thought it was a tool problem the first couple of attempts... then realized it was absolutely user error. Even my ebay cheapo 10-pack of chinese tools seems to work just fine. Another little tip I'd give is that I only have to use the plunger to get the larva off of the tool probably less than half the time. You kind of get the hang of how to get them on the tip and with moist cups they slide right off without pushing them.

    And magnification and lighting. And magnification and lighting. And magnification and lighting. And magnification and lighting.

    I have been happy with these:
    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    I run foundationless also, and Mr. Palmer is right, the dark brood wax will not gouge easily, the newer wax will. I always had trouble with the Chinese grafting tool, not sure why, but I have been successful with the German metal tool. I also found out, that I had double the takes when I wore magnifying glasses when I grafted.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    A chewed tooth pick Works great.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    sorry to hijack here but had to ask...is it necessary to prime the cups with royal jelly/water?
    I'm going to have a crack at grafting this year ( trying to follow MPs sustainable apiary model meaning have to try and raise some queens!) and I'm not sure about dry vs primed cups.

    thanks in advance

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Quote Originally Posted by jwcarlson View Post
    Do you mean priming the cups your grafting into, AstroBee?
    Yes. I mean placing a small amount of RJ in the plastic cup prior to placing the graft. Its all part of the process I use. I place the grafting frame in my cell builder 1 day prior to grafting, so all larvae are very well provisioned. This also gives a "real-time" reservoir for RJ - no storage of RJ required - I just pull it from adjacent cells while grafting. I'm not suggesting that this is better, or even new, just something that works for me.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    sorry to hijack here but had to ask...is it necessary to prime the cups with royal jelly/water?
    I'm going to have a crack at grafting this year ( trying to follow MPs sustainable apiary model meaning have to try and raise some queens!) and I'm not sure about dry vs primed cups.

    thanks in advance

    No it is not necessary. I suspect that most "dry" graft. If you are proficient with the Chinese tool then no priming needed. I find the Chinese tools inconsistent (at best).
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    No it is not necessary. I suspect that most "dry" graft. If you are proficient with the Chinese tool then no priming needed. I find the Chinese tools inconsistent (at best).
    thanks mate. I have bought the Chinese, german and JZBZ tools...figure ill give em all a try. I'm hopeful although not super optimistic ill have much success but I want to give it a go.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Use a dark comb that has had several rounds of brood raised in it. Keep the Chinese grafting tool in your mouth to soften the tip.

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    No it is not necessary. I suspect that most "dry" graft. If you are proficient with the Chinese tool then no priming needed. I find the Chinese tools inconsistent (at best).
    You can tune them up with 600 wet & dry sandpaper, make them just the way you want them.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    MP, will follow your advice on old dark brood comb and keeping the tip moist. I will try and fine tune my skills, as well as the chinese tool with some sandpaper, along with trying some other options like the chewed toothpick and pounded flat tip paper clip Ray and Tenbears mentioned. I watched a vid of Les Crowder using a willow branch where he broke off a thin section of branch and used the remnant of torn, supple bark at the end for grafting also. Might give that a go. Lighting and magnification-check. I'm sure that will help tremendously as I struggled to see what I was doing last year. I'm guessing more practice will help more than anything.

    Ruth, I like the idea of the Nicot system, but I really want to get this grafting thing down. I might try one for kicks someday when funds aren't an issue. It looks like a really good system. Let me know how it works for you.

    Thank you all.
    Season 5. TF.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    The black plastic cored frame is your best shortcut to having some old dark brood comb. The lighting and magnification work very well then to better allow your eyes to have proper depth perception... I found that I have to see it properly to be able to make a tool work. My favorite is the chinese tool. At least thus far.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    paint brush.
    What size and type of bristle? Do you trim or use as new?

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Hi Guys

    Sanding a Chinese tool's tip, changing its thickness and shape, alters it's flexibility and function. It's quick, taking only a couple of minutes at most.

    For new comb or some plastic based foundation, a tinner, more tappered tip works great. Almost any kind of tip works on old, dark, bullet shaped cells.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Favorite Grafting Tool?

    Modified plastic drinking straw. Smaller diameter and black is best. Diameter about the size of the cells you are grafting from. Cut the end at an angle with the cut an inch or more long. Tip should be cut flat and 1/32 inch wide. Too narrow and the tip is too flexible. Too wide and it is too stiff. Much easier for me than either the Chinese tools or any of the metal tools. Push larva off the end of the plastic straw with any of the metal grafting tools, or I use a dental pick. When you are first learning to graft it helps immensely if you push the cell walls out of the way with the dental pick before trying to pick up the larva. You can see the larva much easier. With experience you can skip pushing the cell walls out of the way and just stick the straw down the cell and pull it back out with the larva on it. Keep the cell area you are grafting from moist with a very fine mist of tap water from a spray bottle if you are having trouble getting the grafting tool under the larva and instead are pushing it to the side of the cell.

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