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Okay, maybe not a 3D printed queen. I guess that thread title was click-bait.

I am still a way off from getting those bees, but that doesn't stop me from "planning" years out. I worry about grafting larvae with my eyes, but the "cell punch method" seems really interesting. Of course, I will need wax foundation or foundationless, but that's a problem for a different day.

For some reason, I could not wrap my head around what Dave Cushman/Roger Patterson was telling me, so I bought a cell punch set from a company in Brittain. It is expensive for what it is, but I needed to have it in my hands to make sense out of it.
Musical instrument Rectangle Wood Metal Font
Wood Cylinder Auto part Font Metal

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Now that I have seen it, I am somewhat chagrined. The frame itself is the standard Langstroth width, which is to say too wide. That's not a big deal, I would not have bought the frame from them, but it was the only way I could get it. Somehow the picture there still didn't seem to line up in my brain, and when I received the package, I was a little unimpressed with what the nose piece really is. It's a cut section of tubing (reinforced beverage tubing in this case:
Wood Electric blue Metal Cylinder Fashion accessory

So, now that I have one in my hand, I can figure out that the nose piece is intended to provide a bit of grip while you punch through from the "good" side of the comb - at least st how this one is made. Then, you push the plug out with the dowel, which exposes the target cell and the nose then serves as a base from which the bees will draw out a queen cell.

So yes, I "wasted money"... I like to look at it as I paid for a lesson. That stings less. I also could not leave well enough alone. I enjoy deconstructing things, so for your edification, I have done so here:
  • Punch Tube: 10mm OD 0.5mm wall brass tube, 25mm in length. Dave Cushman's website lists this as a 9.5mm x .75mm tube.

  • Dowel Pusher: 35.75mm in total length. The thicker part is 15mm in diameter and 14.5mm high. The plunger portion is 8mm in diameter protrudes 21.25mm past the wider region. That leaves 3.75mm of the cell inside the tube when pushed in fully.

  • Nose Piece: 10mm ID beverage tubing, cut roughly 7.5mm long. This is very low-tech, so I'm not going to describe it more.
Let's talk about the tubing. Dave/Roger says:
Dave Cushman said:
A common suggestion is to use small bore copper pipe for the tube, but this is too soft. It needs to be quite hard, such as brass or stainless steel, to maintain a reasonably sharp cutting edge. The internal diameter is 8mm, but slightly larger will do. This can be from any source, but spent bullet cases are also suitable, so if you know someone who goes shooting you may get some from them.
So this basically needs to be big enough to go around a donor cell. Depending on your cell size, that's going to be 4.9mm up to 5.4mm, I think. If you go with Dave Cushman's advice, you end up with an ID of ~8mm, which is more than acceptable. The tubing in my hand leaves about ~9mm in the ID. All this will affect, I think, is the size of the "ribs" that will come out with your cell.

I also reminded myself that tubing is sold by the outside diameter, and pipe is sold by the inside diameter. So a 10mm tube is 10mm OD no matter the wall thickness. The thickness will be subtracted from the OD (x2) to leave the ID. An Imperial size tubing for this would be 3/8 brass tubing, sold at nearly every hobby store. Since Dave mentions a rifle case, I measured, and my 5.56 cases are ~9.58mm, so probably a good choice for these as well.

I'm not quite sure what would be best to do the sharpening. I believe sharpening only one end would be easier, safer, and that's what Dave Cushman shows. The ones I bought are sharpened on both ends; the punch side is sharpened on the inside of the tube, and the other side where you will cut your fingers is sharpened on the outside. Dave's is shown sharpened on the outside, but I can't imagine it makes much difference.

Now on to the nose piece:
Dave Cushman said:
I believe the only purpose of the plastic nose is to hold the punched cell in place so it doesn't drop out. The hole through it therefore needs to be 0.5-1mm smaller than the metal tube
But wait! This beverage tubing on my purchased items does nothing to help the cell from dropping out. I think it's just there to be there, maybe to help prevent cut fingers. Dave further says about holding the cell:
Dave Cushman said:
This is already a feature of a bullet case where the end is swaged in.
Interesting. So I looked up a .38 casing, and of course, the ID Is 9.1 mm, which is a good match. The case length is 29.3mm. That might be too short given the rim and the extra thickness down on the bottom. A .357 now, that's longer. 33mm, to be exact. So I think a spent .357 casing might do well for this and probably remove the need for the nose piece.

But I still have this crappy beverage tubing that is about as useful as my appendix. I also have a 3D printer, and I'm not afraid to use it. So I drafted out a nose piece that has a "pocket" for the tubing, provides a slightly smaller ID as Dave suggests, and is tapered, which I think might be a little more acceptable to the bees as a starting point to draw out the queen cell:
Dumbbell Wood Cylinder Tints and shades Magenta

You'll also notice I took the liberty of designing a better fitting plunger since the dowel supplied was a little too long (I could have cut it) and a sloppy fit.
Tire Wood Rectangle Automotive tire Cylinder

So there you go. A cautionary tale for anyone interested in purchasing these. Also, a little information to help translate "Sussex English" to good old American as God intended.

If you don't have a 3D printer and are wondering about the cost of printing these nose pieces: Printing 10 of them takes my printer about 22 minutes, and I estimate the price at $0.04 for 10. If I want to print the 10 plungers, it would take ~3 hours and cost about $0.51 for the 10.

If you do have a 3D printer and you are interested in the model files, drop me a note. I'd be more than happy to share.
 

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Years ago when I was learning how to raise queens I also tried the cell punch method. I simply used a brazing rod brazed to a brass compression ferrule. It worked, but nothing beats grafting. Stick with learning how to graft and using deep plastic foundation, nucs and hive bodies if you're serious about raising queens.
 

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I still use the cell punch in addition to grafting.
Great tool for raising some chosen larvae in a high production outyard without going full on and grafting in the mating yard. Couldn't be easier or faster especially when knocking back very strong colonies in the spring after equalizing the yard, plenty of resources then, and drones, to make a half dozen or more queens on the fly before the mating yard is operating.

Here is the KISS tool I use.

Natural material Wood Amber Body jewelry Jewellery
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've seen the compression ferrule version of the tool. I guess the advantage to the classic punch is that you never touch the cell. The downside is you need 10 of them if you want to rear 10 queens.

How do you get the cell from that to the cup without damaging it?
 

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Years ago when I was learning how to raise queens I also tried the cell punch method. I simply used a brazing rod brazed to a brass compression ferrule. It worked, but nothing beats grafting. Stick with learning how to graft and using deep plastic foundation, nucs and hive bodies if your serious about raising queens.
I agree; you can make a very good cell punch from the body of any of the magnum rifle shell casings. What LBussy is meditating about is agitating him instead. In half an hour I could show him how to make a grafting tool from a feather and learn how to relocate the larva. JZBZ makes cups for pennies or you can dip them yourself.

The worries about eye sight and steadiness of hand is all for naught! Search out the thread where psm1212 recommends the 20 dollar lit, bifocal close up optics that make seeing the larva clearly dead simple. Mr Amazon delivered PSM's recommendation in three days! I have an arm control tremor that made me avoid the very thoughts but I found that it is very easy to rest the heel of your hand on a towel on the comb and then finger motion alone does the fine work of lifting the larva. Placing it down in the cup is enabled by the same method of first planting the heel of your hand before sliding the larvae off.

All the other fore play to get the bees in the mood and provide the essentials to take the larvae to capping stage are the same whether you cell punch or use any of the other touchless methods. That does take some real hours of reading and attention to detail. Sue Cobey's Cloake board method makes that fairly easy and the Cloake board is easy gear to whack together.
I have used the Cloake board and also have used the Snelgrove board which does a good job of providing the essential conditions for queen cell raising on existing comb or optionally cell cups you have grafted into.
 

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I still use the cell punch in addition to grafting.
Great tool for raising some chosen larvae in a high production outyard without going full on and grafting in the mating yard. Couldn't be easier or faster especially when knocking back very strong colonies in the spring after equalizing the yard, plenty of resources then, and drones, to make a half dozen or more queens on the fly before the mating yard is operating.

Here is the KISS tool I use.

View attachment 66291
The compression ferrule is an easy construction; I had the notion of making something a bit thinner with a shell casing which also provided the shaft but a spent a few hours messing with it. It is sharp and thin and does a neat job but that is just window dressing as far as utility goes
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What LBussy is meditating about is agitating him instead.
Nah, it gave me a break really - I like the 3D modeling and at least I was doing something I know. Whether it works or not is another thing, but now I know I can make these anyway.

In half an hour I could show him how to make a grafting tool from a feather and learn how to relocate the larva.
Looks like a 15-hour drive, Frank. How is your Saturday looking? ;)
 

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Nah, it gave me a break really - I like the 3D modeling and at least I was doing something I know. Whether it works or not is another thing, but now I know I can make these anyway.


Looks like a 15-hour drive, Frank. How is your Saturday looking? ;)
No larva:(!

I wish I was up to doing a video that could show what I am seeing as I pick up a larva. Cant get the camera in there and still see what I am doing. Some of the micro cameras that would not get in the way would be super. I have seen very little video on the net that does a good detailed job of it. I think the very small thin tips that I prefer, do a neater job of picking up the larva than the chinese contraption. I have managed a few with it but find it frustrating. Just does not lend tranquility to the process at least not for me. I know it works fantastically for the skilled. Most of the ones you get can be disassembled and have the tongue thinned and made much more flexible.

The material in a feather shaft can be thinned till it is almost invisible. That is a hair in .002. Wish I had a view from the top to show the width; probably not much more than .020"
A little dot of dilute royal jelly in the cell cup provides surface tension as soon as the larva touches down and it is very easy to pull the tip out from under it. Some video on the web seems to portray some major mauling of the larva!

I make some misses by hitting the sides of the cell when pulling out but if you want to trim down the cell walls bfore plucking up the larva it is much easier for a start.
 

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my file for them is here https://a360.co/3Fv8Fma


the above is fine if you need a bunch, but for most people a singe strip is plenty of cells ie

when I 1st started I was taught by marty how to do it by wrapping the comb strip with fishing line to a empty topbar. This way you never need to leave the yard, keeping things fast and easy. https://www.beesource.com/attachments/the-appropriate-beehive-by-marty-hardison-pdf.61453/
page 26

to me... the cell punch was a solution to a problem I didn't have.

I run the queen rearing program for the Colorado state beekeepers assoastion, this year I had 6 local clubs that set up my "do all" system as cell builders and start raring queens using timed larve and push in cages around cells.. mixed results..
a few ran out and set up there own personals systems and started grafting we good suces.

across the board I have seen those who are willing/motivated take the time to lean to graft be much more successful.. It seems to (in most cases) separate thows who are going to do what it takes to learn queen rearing form thoes wo aren't
 

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It appears you haven't actually started beekeeping yet. So - how many colonies do you intend to keep - or - more importantly, how many queens do you anticipate needing each year ? If it's less than fifty, then you don't need to have the eyesight of a teenager, or learn any new skills, or do anything particularly challenging ...

Queen-rearing is one of those jobs far better left to the professionals. And who are "the professionals" ? The bees are the professionals. (Apologises to Michael Palmer for pinching part of his script)

All you need is one or more foundationless frames, to which you either attach some new 'white comb', or pull a frame shortly after the bees have begun to draw it out - same thing.

This is a piece of white comb which was salvaged, then attached with dabs of molten wax:



This is a mixed bag, some 'early pulls', some attached later:



Ok - all you then need to do is place one of those frames with it's 'white comb starter' into the middle of the brood nest of the colony with the queen you wish to breed from.
If you pull that frame 3 or 4 days later, you should find the comb has been further drawn out, and the queen will have begun to lay in it. As soon as you observe the presence of larvae, pull that frame and - if you see the queen - coax her off onto another comb, then shake-off the remaining bees and place that frame into the heart of a queenless colony, or a swarm box (if you use such a thing) full of nurse bees.

In a few days time, you should then see something like this:



On Day 12 (+/- 1) cut-out the q/cells and transfer them either to waiting nucleus colonies, or place them in an incubator for the virgins to emerge. And that's it - job done ... !

You can expect anywhere between a dozen and twenty q/cells each time. It's a totally painless procedure - no need for special equipment or responding to critical timing - and as a bonus, the bees get to choose whichever larvae they want, rather than those which we select.
'best,
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
my file for them is here https://a360.co/3Fv8Fma
Thank you, sir! I assume that's the cup to hold the cut cells as shown in that video?

the above is fine if you need a bunch, but for most people a singe strip is plenty of cells ie
I did read that one, and it does seem simple enough.

to me... the cell punch was a solution to a problem I didn't have.
I can see that. Just looking at things, it "seems like" it's a good way to raise a couple quickly, or to just experiment with I guess. Like I said, I paid money for a lesson and I'll remember it :)

I run the queen rearing program for the Colorado state beekeepers assoastion, this year I had 6 local clubs that set up my "do all" system as cell builders and start raring queens using timed larve and push in cages around cells.. mixed results..
a few ran out and set up there own personals systems and started grafting we good suces.
Is that where the 6-frame nuc I think you just posted is used? Is your system documented where I might be able to get at it and look?

across the board I have seen those who are willing/motivated take the time to lean to graft be much more successful.. It seems to (in most cases) separate thows who are going to do what it takes to learn queen rearing form thoes wo aren't
The challenge, in my brain, is the waste related to most of the queen rearing systems when you only need a few queens. As a new beekeeper, who would want my queens? Who would buy nucs from some chucklehead in doo-dah Kansas? I know there are those who do want those, but I'm relatively certain they are way more clueless than I am and I'm not sure I can handle all of them coming back to me when things go wrong.

It appears you haven't actually started beekeeping yet. So - how many colonies do you intend to keep - or - more importantly, how many queens do you anticipate needing each year ? If it's less than fifty, then you don't need to have the eyesight of a teenager, or learn any new skills, or do anything particularly challenging ...
You are correct! I've been pestering you fine people for a few months while I finish my course, work in the school bee yard, and help out a local beekeeper.

I do think I will need less than 50, I need enough to reliably expand for a few years I suppose, then I'll be left wondering which road to take.

Queen-rearing is one of those jobs far better left to the professionals. And who are "the professionals" ? The bees are the professionals. (Apologises to Michael Palmer for pinching part of his script)
I watched that again this morning, and it makes more sense every time.

All you need is one or more foundationless frames, in which you either attach some new 'white comb', or pull a frame shortly after the bees have begun to draw it out - same thing.
That seems like the Miller OTS system with no cutting I guess? It does seem to make cells in a manner allowing them to be removed to new hives/nucs which seems nice.

You can expect anywhere between a dozen and twenty q/cells each time. It's a totally painless procedure - no need for special equipment or responding to critical timing - and as a bonus, the bees get to choose whichever larvae they want, rather than those which we select.
Do the nurse bees chew down the sidewalls and build them "down" or do they sort of do that 90-degree turn like on emergency cells on the face?
 

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Is that where the 6-frame nuc I think you just posted is used? Is your system documented where I might be able to get at it and look?
its were it will be used 2022...putting the whole fosse of the cell building side of things on grafting to narrow the pool to those who will be the most successful and starting a "spliting" program for gen pop that need a few queen but don't want to woke hard at it

Is your system documented where I might be able to get at it and look?
files CSBA Club Level Queen Rearing Program

 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
starting a "spliting" program for gen pop that need a few queen but don't want to woke hard at it
That sounds interesting - I'll have to keep an eye out.

I figure at best next year I might be able to play with making a few grafts but I'll likely not have enough built up to start them. It will give me some practice, anyway.

I was reminded of this 'poor man's' cell punch approach outlined in Gilles Fert's 'Raising Honeybee Queens' book.
That's an interesting take on it.
 

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Pull a frame with some brood on it. Lift out one larva and lick it off the tool then start taking larva out to replace each previous one moved. Good practice and not too much damage done. There is so much to be said for being able to pull genetics from whatever colony you wish at a moments notice without having to go thru the ritual of staging its queens to lay on plain wax foundation. When you do a frame of grafts you could even have larva from several different queens. I just think that grafting is actually a simpler process than some of the graftless alternatives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Lift out one larva and lick it off the tool then start taking larva out to replace each previous one moved.
This some kind of beekeeper hazing? :)
 

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That seems like the Miller OTS system with no cutting I guess? It does seem to make cells in a manner allowing them to be removed to new hives/nucs which seems nice.
Yes - the Miller Method involves cutting back to the appropriately-aged larvae. However, when using white comb the wax is so soft, the bees can easily cut it back themselves, or mold it how they want - unlike old, aged comb. Sometimes two q/cells are joined together such that it would be impossible to separate them - so it's best to cull one early on, 'cause it won't be saved later. Likewise, sometimes a q/cell is attached to the woodwork - best to cull all but one like that, then donate the frame with that one remaining q/cell, after cutting-out the others.

Do the nurse bees chew down the sidewalls and build them "down" or do they sort of do that 90-degree turn like on emergency cells on the face?
To be perfectly honest, this is something I've never given any thought to. Looking at that photograph with hindsight, the cells are so large (looking more like teats on a cow's udder), I'd say they had cut that comb back themselves and built q/cells on the resulting edge, just like swarm cells. Even the q/cells away from the edge are long - so I guess they must carve away the cells walls directly below the chosen larva to make clearance.

I'd have to take a much closer look next time I run this ... :)
'best,
LJ
 
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