When does grafting season end?
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  1. #1
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    Default When does grafting season end?

    I know (think?) it begins when drones are flying. But what signals the end of grafting season?

    I just did another round today and while I was doing it my mind wondered off to that question. I have at least 2 full hives that I'm going to break down into nucs at the end of the season. What would be the latest, season-wise or date, that I could graft, get a good matings, and use those queen in the nucs?

    Grafting is new to me this year but I really like it. Much more dependable than splits for increases.

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  3. #2
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    Feb 2013
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    Gresham, OR USA
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    I just started raising my own queens this year and after 2 attempts I think I finally got it down on how to graft. I was also wondering about this.
    I use the queen rearing calendar found online and decided after the 4th of July I will graft 1 more time. If it all goes well those queens will be laying by mid August. I want to make some nucs and possibly sell some queens. At that time I usually start feeding in prep for winter so I figured that would be my last chance, but really have no answer. I want to queens to requeen my other wives after I treat for mites. It would be nice if I could somehow make a queen bank and overwinter some extras but I don't know how to go about doing that.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Walls View Post
    …and after 2 attempts I think I finally got it down on how to graft.
    You are a wizard. I've been grafting four years now and I still suck at it. Last week I grafted 14 cells. To graft 14 I killed at least another 14. Such carnage! Two cells were accepted. That is twice as bad as last year, I'm going backwards. Next time I'll graft 20. Maybe I'll get the five queens I want for overwinter nucs.

    I've had better luck with Oldtimer's cut strip method, but I am determined to get grafting down. Hopefully grafting again this weekend.
    Zone 5B

  5. #4
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    I have been raising queens for about the last five years using various methods. So I have some, but not a wealth, of experience.

    Biologically speaking, I would say that the “end” of the season is at least three weeks before drones are evicted from the hives. I think that would be the latest when you could get queens properly mated and laying. Obviously, not an ideal time to be raising Queens.

    Practically speaking, it is easier to induce the bees to produce quality Queens during the time when they are naturally inclined to do so. Michael Bush pointed this out somewhere on his website I believe, but I can’t find the reference right now. The later you go into the summer, the more difficult it is to induce the bees to produce quality Queens. Perhaps others with more experience will have a different opinion, but I would say that the the summer dearth is the practical “end of the season” for raising quality queens. When that occurs depends on your area.

    Rather than push the limit, I suggest that the better course would be to raise more queens than you need during the time the bees would otherwise be inclined to do so. Put excess mated queens into a nuc with a frame of capped brood. That way, you can “preserve” them until the time you might need them in the fall.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    I am going to try again this Independence Day. I used the same logic on my last attempt. First time I was 4 for 12. Ok, graft more to get the numbers I want. Grafted 38, and did not squish any that went into the cups. Still only got four. To make it worse, the bees tore them all down by day six. Bummer. I think I may have a virgin queen in there somewhere. If so, I will need another cell starter.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    I am going to try again this Independence Day. I used the same logic on my last attempt. First time I was 4 for 12. Ok, graft more to get the numbers I want. Grafted 38, and did not squish any that went into the cups. Still only got four. To make it worse, the bees tore them all down by day six. Bummer. I think I may have a virgin queen in there somewhere. If so, I will need another cell starter.
    Nearly my same experience. 1st 2 rounds I was getting better and better. 2 previous to last weekend I got ZERO takes. I think Tom Sullivan may have hit on something with the weather having to do with it. Not only did they not take any of my grafts, they had no intention of making an emergency queen.

    Yesterday I went crazy and grafted 30. I really only want about 5. I peeked tonight and it looks like about 50% took so far. Still pathetic, but better than zero. I suppose if they aren't in the mood nothing will convince them to make a queen.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    Ha, no wizard at all. Several times reading though my books and plenty of Youtube videos. First time was so excited I wanted to graft from larva in my "good"hive. Grafted, followed all the directions, waited......and nothing. Very disappointed.
    Next time, took a bit longer and looked for very young larva, grafted 10 cells and 2 took. That was exciting!

    After the 4th I think I will graft around 20, and hope that maybe 8-10 will take. I know what to look for now and it's just like what is described in everything I've read. A very small larva that looks like a coma. C shaped larva are too old.
    The challenge is to get them out of the cell and in to a cup. I tied the Chinese grafting tool and it's really difficult to get under the larva. Going to order the stainless one from Mann lake and see if that works better.
    My plan was to try to make a few queens to maybe make up some nucs and try to see if I can get them to overwinter. Our dearth in Oregon is mid-late July. after that it's pretty much no nectar until the following year. I figured whatever I can get from grafts after the 4th I'll take. Don't want to go too late in the season because they still have to get mated. At the price of queens now, I thought trying to make my own could save a few bucks.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve in PA View Post
    What would be the latest, season-wise or date, that I could graft, get a good matings, and use those queen in the nucs?
    I would finish up while there is still a flow. Here the Linden flow ends about mid-July, and then there's goldenrod. That's too late in the season for raising queens. My last graft is July 10.

    Then of course there's more work to be done in the apiary. Requeening finished before the end of July. And harvest that begins early August.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    Mike, any special advice to reach the highest level of graft acceptance by cell builder?

    Here's my personal list, considering the use of plastic cell cups (basically, the Nicot equipment):
    1. Dig the tip / rim of the plastic cell cup into beewax, to simulate the queen cell building process has already started;
    2. Use a queenless cell builder with almost all brood hatched out (based on your 10 + 10 technique);
    3. Grafting the youngest larvae as possible;
    4. Composed nutrition: syrup feeder + pollen patty.

    The only missing step i see is preparing the bottom of the cell cup: currently i'm grafting the larvae into the cleaned plastic bottom of the cell cup but i read some studies which describe that, adding some honey/water mixture or distilled water on the bottom of the cup (just a small drop) can help the acceptance of the cells.

    Have you ever tried? Do you directly graft on plastic cleaned cup?

  11. #10
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    Wharton, Texas, USA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    I am going to try again this Independence Day. I used the same logic on my last attempt. First time I was 4 for 12. Ok, graft more to get the numbers I want. Grafted 38, and did not squish any that went into the cups. Still only got four. To make it worse, the bees tore them all down by day six. Bummer. I think I may have a virgin queen in there somewhere. If so, I will need another cell starter.
    I had the same kind of thing happen it was a virgin queen. I use the mp ten over ten Just make sure there’s no queen cells or larvae that they can make into queen cells. I’ve seen them draw out qcs on one piece plastic frames on the groves on the side bars. If they draw out a larvae close to being capped when you stick your grafts in she will hatch really quickly and your cell builder will be ruined. The further along the larvae the smaller and harder the qc to spot. I’m almost considering doing the ten over ten but taking ten combs nectar and pollen and spare drawn combs freeze them to kill any larvae then put all the bees in there through a shaker box that way it’s impossible for a qc to get past you.

  12. #11
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    Mar 2015
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    In my area I figure this week is the last week i will try. Last thing i want to do is have a nuc go into winter with only a baseball of bees. would like softball or larger.
    I went and got a microscope that hooks up to a laptop. Going high tech here lol. i get dizzy using lenses like glasses so trying this. looking at it magnified i'm surprised i ever got such a small thing onto the tool. Got aggravated last time and called my melenials to come earn their keep. guess they did well as we got about 15 to take. Checking mating nucs this week as well.
    Terrence

  13. #12
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    Feb 2013
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    Gresham, OR USA
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    Where did you get the microscope that hooks up to your computer? That may be easier than using my headlight magnifying glasses.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Walls View Post
    Where did you get the microscope that hooks up to your computer? That may be easier than using my headlight magnifying glasses.
    Amazon. There are tons of these at very affordable prices. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    This is what the image looks like. You have to position it so its off center as the grafting tool will hit it. forgive the screen glare
    IMG_4945.jpg
    IMG_4947.jpg
    IMG_4946.jpg
    Terrence

  15. #14
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    Jul 2017
    Location
    Alberta Ca
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefano.core View Post
    Mike, any special advice to reach the highest level of graft acceptance by cell builder?

    Here's my personal list, considering the use of plastic cell cups (basically, the Nicot equipment):
    1. Dig the tip / rim of the plastic cell cup into beewax, to simulate the queen cell building process has already started;
    2. Use a queenless cell builder with almost all brood hatched out (based on your 10 + 10 technique);
    3. Grafting the youngest larvae as possible;
    4. Composed nutrition: syrup feeder + pollen patty.

    The only missing step i see is preparing the bottom of the cell cup: currently i'm grafting the larvae into the cleaned plastic bottom of the cell cup but i read some studies which describe that, adding some honey/water mixture or distilled water on the bottom of the cup (just a small drop) can help the acceptance of the cells.

    Have you ever tried? Do you directly graft on plastic cleaned cup?
    My .02 on this one

    1. setup cell builder
    2. let builder clean cups for 24 hours
    3. graft
    4. replace

    There are countless methods to setting up your cell builder.. I am lazy and dont raise alot of queens a year, 50 or so this year. I use 1 queenless starter finisher, set up initially using a varried 10 over 10 system. My builder this year has been restocked with 1 frame of fresh brood since I started it. I get great queens, maybe not the best, but pretty dang good. Feed pollen sub and syrup through the entire process. I think people worry too much about the details of it all, and dont focus on the important points.
    1. overflowing with bees
    2. hopelessly queenless
    3. well fed
    4. right time of year.

    I am not a gentle grafter, and still regularily get 14-15 of 16 accepted. My builder carries them right through to capping, then they get a new graft frame.

  16. #15
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    May 2015
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    Skaneateles, NY
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    So i have been grafting queens since 2016.
    I would say being generous i suck at it. Having said that this year i got 33 queen cells from my 45 grafted cells.
    I ended up with 29 mated queens at the end of it.

    This year i followed Michael Palmers video on the cell builder. The difference was night and day compared to my acceptance firstly and also the size of the queen cells and finally now that these queens are laying the brood patterns are ridiculous. Wall to wall brood. These queens are outlaying all of my purchased queens which i have from all over.

    I really think that the cell builder is the key here. I am definitely not great at the actual grafting part. I use a head magnifier but now i think i will get that laptop magnifier that Kaizen mentioned.
    I think though that the cell builder being so massive and so hopelessly queenless makes them a lot more forgiving and faster to accept the marginally grafted larvae and do everything they can to salvage every larvae i gave them.
    I really struggled with the grafting process..it took me ages to get all the cells loaded with larvae and i killed more larvae than i successfully got into the cups. Im sure the more you do it the better you get but after this years MP cellbuilder experience ill never try it another way.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: When does grafting season end?

    Quote Originally Posted by MillerLane View Post
    My .02 on this one

    1. setup cell builder
    2. let builder clean cups for 24 hours
    3. graft
    4. replace

    There are countless methods to setting up your cell builder.. I am lazy and dont raise alot of queens a year, 50 or so this year. I use 1 queenless starter finisher, set up initially using a varried 10 over 10 system. My builder this year has been restocked with 1 frame of fresh brood since I started it. I get great queens, maybe not the best, but pretty dang good. Feed pollen sub and syrup through the entire process. I think people worry too much about the details of it all, and dont focus on the important points.
    1. overflowing with bees
    2. hopelessly queenless
    3. well fed
    4. right time of year.

    I am not a gentle grafter, and still regularily get 14-15 of 16 accepted. My builder carries them right through to capping, then they get a new graft frame.

    I follow about the same path, with hopelessly queenless cell builder, waiting for capping before introducing the next cell cups frame. Usually, after that, i move the capped cups into my DIY incubator (Thanks Arduino! :-) ).

    Currently, my biggest point to work out is the acceptance ratio of the larvae as, on the last run, from 12 cells, 11 queens hatched (pretty good to me).

    How long do you keep the same cell builder working in this way? Do you add a new frame of capped brood avery three weeks or more often?

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