help with grafting from older comb
Results 1 to 17 of 17
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,202

    Default help with grafting from older comb

    I did my second attempt at grafting this year and it went really poorly at first. I was grafting from some older comb that was fairly dark. The cells were so deep I could not get a single larvae out without flipping it. So I used a brand new razor blade to try to trim the comb back like I did when I was grafting from fairly new comb. It was like trying to cut leather and just made things worse. All it did was pull out the cocoons with the larvae and did not really cut the comb very well. In the end, I searched out some larvae in newer comb (I found it in the 6th hive I looked in) and it went just fine. I would appreciate any help with this problem. Is the easy answer to just not use old comb or is there a trick to it?

  2. Remove Advertisements
    BeeSource.com
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    10,189

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    Personally I like to graft from comb that can have the cell walls scraped down, does make it a lot easier and faster. For mass production a system can be used in the breeder hives to ensure you get such comb, but at a hobby level you may have to take what's available.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    New Haven, CT
    Posts
    412

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    Were you using a Chinese grafting tool? They work better for me in old comb. I think that perhaps more practice, but new comb you can cut down to improve your angle of approach may be the most efficient use of your time. Many small steps to assure successful efforts are needed. I hope your results from your efforts are good, when you next inspect your cells.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
    Posts
    6,553

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    I use the Chinese tool now.
    It seems to work best on older dark hard comb.
    I've never cut down comb to graft myself, but know that some folks do.

    All I can say is try different tools until you find one that works best for you, and that with time, you'll get better and better at grafting.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,634

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    Sympathises - I'm not much good at grafting and find likewise: that dark combs cut badly, but also that tiny translucent-white larvae are hard to spot against pure white comb - at least with my poor eyesight.

    I'm considering the use of black plastic foundation, and simply scrape away the walls, leaving the larvae exposed in the dimples. At least that's what I've been told will happen ...

    But - black plastic foundation is a rare beast over here, and thus expensive. I'm considering buying via Ebay, but some adverts for b-p-foundation state that they're for Cerana, which is a much smaller bee of course and might well have a sub 4.9mm cell size. But ALL the adverts for b-p-foundation - whether for Cerana or Mellifera - appear identical. And as I find asking Chinese vendors for details to be an almost impossible task, I'm currently undecided whether to buy or not.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
    Posts
    1,759

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    I use the Chinese from Mann Lake, Now all tools are not the same, you need to search for one that has a very soft tip that will bend very easily and then hold it in your mouth for a while which seems to make it more supple and flexible. Then with some good light and jewelers glasses over my glasses you can see the larvae very easily, push the tool down into the cell and with a slight twisting scooping motion lift out the larvae. If the larvae does not lift out or sticks to the side of the cell leave it and move on to the next one. It is all just a matter of practice and with the right tool it just gets easier and easier. If I want to graft in my outyards I do it in my truck parked in such a way as to get some sunlight onto my steering from behind and that is enough light to get the job done. I would say at this point not much more than 4 or 5 seconds to locate the larvae you want and to place it into the plastic cell cup. So practice practice and some more practice.
    Johno

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Ottawa, ON
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    I just finished my round of grafting. It was dark comb with lots of old cocoons. I start at the bottom of the frame and search up to find small larve. Then pull down the side of teh cell well that gives me better angle. I muck up a lot of cells but the bees seem to fix it up. I also use a chinese tool. Not all chinese tools are equal so get a few. I also hold the tool in my mouth to soften and add a little moisture to improve the adhesion and cohesion. It is the little dab of royal jelly you are aiming to pick up. It is the properties of adhesion and cohesion that first draws the drop of moisture on the tool to the drop of jelly and then makes it cling.
    Practice..
    Ottawa. ON

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,202

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    I did use the Chinese tool but with no luck at all. It seemed that as soon as I started pulling it out of the cell, it would fall off. I think a bit of practice without actually transferring the larvae is a really good idea. That way I am not frustrated at not getting any successful grafts, because it is just a training exercise. Since in the end I got all the grafts done for this year, it is a good time to start practicing.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
    Posts
    6,553

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    It sounds like larva you are getting is on the dry side. Try feeding the hive 24-48 hours before you go in to graft. That will help insure the larva you are after are in a good pool of royal jelly. I've never put the tool in my mouth, but it may help, or you could just dunk it in a cell with open larva to moisten it some.

    Good eyesight helps. As Johno said, I use a strong pair of reading glasses, and if it's not strong enough, then two pair. Even with good eye sight, you will be surprised in what a good cheap pair of reading glasses can do for grafting, especially when you are just starting out. It makes that tiny little spot of wetness look like the largest white worm you ever did see.

    You might do some practice rounds on a day or two older larger larva to help get the hang of it.

    Good luck on your next try.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
    Posts
    1,986

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    I think a bit of practice without actually transferring the larvae is a really good idea. That way I am not frustrated at not getting any successful grafts, because it is just a training exercise
    I have found using 48 hour cells a handy way to practice,. If I get a good take I leave it to mature in the builder and start grafting a new bar... if I get none or just a few to take I place what I can and regraft the bar every 2 days. For me at least it takes the pressure off and lets me focus on getting it right.

    a training exercise with usable results, and running 2 bars you could be grafting 15 or so cells every day till your take gets good.
    The internet is instant, and the internet is often wrong-Kim Flottum

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,129

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    New to grafting and have only done it once. I used a 5x LED magnifying lamp and a chinese grafting tool. The first tool wasn't flexible enough and kept going through the back of the cell. Switched tools and things got better. The magnification of the lamp really helped me see what I was doing and choose the correct age larvae. Will be doing another set once this rain stops.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,202

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    It sounds like larva you are getting is on the dry side. Try feeding the hive 24-48 hours before you go in to graft. That will help insure the larva you are after are in a good pool of royal jelly.
    It seemed that way to me too. The hive I took the frame from has been fed consistently for the last couple of weeks with syrup and patties but still seemed drier that the last batch I did. I did not have the time to put the frame into the cell builder for a day before grafting but will need to remember to do that from now on. It seemed to make quite a difference Since I have now finished my grafting for the year, I will concentrate on the last flow of the year (blackberry) for my immediate area which just started. Thank you all for your input!

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Boone County, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    156

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    With the Chinese tool, the older and darker the comb the better. The old comb is hard and that helps because: you slide down one side of the cell wall and when the flexible tip gets to the bottom of the cell it will turn and go under the larva all on its own. Exit the cell the same way you went in!! ie, go back up the same side of the cell!! If you try lifting the larva out you will swipe it against the opposite cell wall and 'flip it' or drop it. New comb doesn't work because when you slide down the cell wall and get to the bottom the tip of the tool just digs into the wax and doesn't turn under the larva.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Port Angeles, WA, USA
    Posts
    469

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    I use the grafting tool to push the cell walls out a bit, enough to see then I get the larvae. Bees seem to fix it faster than scraping away a chunk.
    Instrumental Insemination & Northern VSH Queens

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,634

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    I'm currently using a 000 brush, and I do like the idea of just pulling-down a cell wall to improve the 'angle of attack' rather than cutting the walls away - which hasn't been that successful so far. Will be trying that on the next run.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,634

    Default Re: help with grafting from older comb

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterP View Post
    I just finished my round of grafting. It was dark comb with lots of old cocoons. I start at the bottom of the frame and search up to find small larve. Then pull down the side of the cell well that gives me better angle.
    Many thanks for that info. I've just finished a batch of grafts taken from new comb using a 000 brush. Simply pulling down the target cell wall with the other end of the brush worked brilliantly - far less problematic than trying to cut cell walls away with a blade. Pre-loading each cell cup with a tiny dab of royal jelly also helped with unloading larva onto the bottom of the cell-cup. I'll be trying older comb next time.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  18. #17
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Brown County, IN, USA
    Posts
    646

    Default

    I use a Chinese tool on dark comb as others have mentioned. I use a hard tool on new comb with great results, and actually prefer this. My favorite tool is the first I made, a paperclip with an end straightened out, hammered flat, then bent just right. I hold it lightly and ease it down. I aim for the back of the larvae, opposite the ends. With a gentle forward motion the flat tip slides under and scoops the larvae right up. Touching the tip in nectar before helps. Once on the tool, just ease it out. Placement is a bit harder on the hard tools so I often move it to a Chinese tool for placement, or just use it to push the larvae off into the cup.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •