I attempted 22 grafts on July 5 and had 19 successful queen cells (which is a record % for me). I made up 8 mating nucs and took 3 to one yard and 5 to another yard. I inserted cells from the same grafting frame into all 8 nucs. The yards are about 10 miles from one another. This weekend (August 3) I checked on all 8 nucs for queens.
In the yard with 3 nucs, I found three fat mated queens. All were laying good patterns and one even had a dozen or so brood cells capped.
In the yard with 5 nucs, I found 3 virgins (could barely distinguish them from workers), no eggs, no larva. There is a possibility that the other two also contained virgins that I either did not see, or were out being mated at the time.
Yes. My previous grafts I almost had 100% success then this time I had mixed results similar to what you described. A few things I’ve noticed... I have better luck in areas around trees I.e not a wide open pasture (I only have experience with one wide open pasture...) 2. If you did not have a lot of drones in the area you may have to wait a bit longer. 3. If the hives you placed the cells in had their own brood they probably destroyed the foreign cell and made their own hence the small queens.
I can always tell if I should give it more time waiting on a mated queen to return if there’s a nice cleaned and polished brood area there’s still a chance but if nectar is stored chaotically something happened. It could be your bees just weren’t eager enough for a queen. It could also be one yard was good the other wasn’t ideal or a combination of both. The hives I have at my house always make queens and fast but it’s hard to say my yard is the best conditions because I also keep a strong drone population and only the nicest bees so is it the location or those other factors. The point of that is there can be a lot of built in variables. I think if you run another graft and place the cells you will have better success granted they have not raised their own in the time being because they will be a bit less picky.