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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
How do you know when it is safe to start grafting queens in a given area.
what are the signs or signals that say it's time to start grafting?
Is it when the day and night time temperatures reach a certain mark?
Is it when you see pollen coming in? Is it when the hive you want to graft from has X number of frames full of sealed brood....
I know there has to be drones flying by the time the queen is ready for here mating flights.
I'm having a really hard time finding out when people in my area generally start grafting to produce queens for splits.
I'm just north of Toronto in Ontario Canada.

there is so much info on why and how to graft queens but not when to start specifically. I don't want to start too early or to late.

Glen
 

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Haven't grafted yet, but hope to in the near future. I have been told that it is time when the blackberries start blooming.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It would be nice to know what do you folks in US recon of my definition of the best time to start queen rearing; here in Finland I usually tell beginners on a course that apple blooming is the good time to start.

Drone rearing must be started two weeks earlier.
Thanks Juhani, sound like that is a good sign to watch for!

Glen
 

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This is just an observation I've made: drone production varies from place to place. I wanted to do a cut down split on a boomer hive I had coming out of winter. I tried to look for drone production in my colonies as a sign that it would be time to make the split. I waited and waited and even when other local beekeepers assured me they had drones walking the frames and even flying, I had yet to find capped drone brood in mine. No drones anywhere. I went ahead and performed the split after talking with a mentor of mine. He said that just because I didn't have drones didn't mean there were no drones available for mating, it simply meant my colonies weren't ready to contribute to the mating process. That made a lot of sense to me. I have at least a decent feral population of honeybees. I've always had bees foraging on dandelions in my yard and pastures in the spring, even before I had colonies of my own. I guess what I'm suggesting is talk to any other local beekeeper in your area and see if they have drones. If they do, it's quite possible you're able to do it sooner than your home colonies indicate.
 

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xxxx

Hi,
How do you know when it is safe to start grafting queens in a given area.
Timing in beekeeping is everything here.
You can do a test graft to see how they react to this process. When the weather
and condition is right then do more grafting. There is no 'safe' time frame here only
a continuous experiment every year to learn from. This year's weather is different from that of last year for queen rearing. Every year, either mental or calendar track down the month and date for this process will help.

what are the signs or signals that say it's time to start grafting?
Consistenet day temp in the lower 80s and upper 70s. A continuous blossom of flowers providing plenty of nectar and pollen. Seeing plenty of capped drones in your hives.
Time it down for the good weather mating flight.
When the bees are carrying resources in during the early Spring time plus continuous nice weather will do.

Is it when the day and night time temperatures reach a certain mark?
Yes, if it is too cold and rainy the queen and drones will not go out to mate.
So timing of the weather pattern is very crucial to this process. With consistent
temp. in the 70-80s would be ideal.

Is it when you see pollen coming in?
Not necessarily true because you can artificial feed to stimulate brood producion and drone production too. It all depends on how strong a colony you have coming out of the winter. In some area pollen come and goes while other areas have a continuous flow. It will help though if you can graft during a good flow. Hey, more resources will make better queens, right. Everything would help in this process.

Is it when the hive you want to graft from has X number of frames full of sealed brood....
Yes, seal brood it is but not the regular worker brood. We are looking for 5-6 frames of sealed drone broods. Also, other stronger hives already have released their drones into the area so by the time you start your graft it is too late. So time it down for your area is the key here. Timing, timing, timing!


I know there has to be drones flying by the time the queen is ready for here mating flights.
Yes, there are some stronger hives that send off drones earlier than your own hives.
Making stronger hives in the Spring time will help with drone rearing for an earlier
queen grafting.


I'm having a really hard time finding out when people in my area generally start grafting to produce queens for splits.
This is a secret that many don't want you to know in your area. Maybe too much competition I think. The old timer here that
I bought queens from every year don't want me to know either. By the time I bought queen from him in mid March he sold more than 50 of them already weeks ago in late Feb. Here I am trying to figure out how come I am so late? But I can figure that out with the pass of time.

I'm just north of Toronto in Ontario Canada.
In colder region with shorter season, timing is everything.

there is so much info on why and how to graft queens but not when to start specifically. I don't want to start too early or to late.
This is the timing part that you have to look for every year as the weather pattern is different from one year to another.
 

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Another reason why beekeeping is so "location" dependent.

Here in Tucson, Arizona. I can raise queens twelve months of the year, most years. About one year each decade (drone populations are drastically reduced), when it gets cold enough, long enough, to make queen rearing difficult, and it's always easier during the spring/summer honey flows.

- - - -
Bottom line is, availability of sufficient drones and warm enough daytime temperatures that both drones and queens can "go out together".
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This is just an observation I've made: drone production varies from place to place. I wanted to do a cut down split on a boomer hive I had coming out of winter. I tried to look for drone production in my colonies as a sign that it would be time to make the split. I waited and waited and even when other local beekeepers assured me they had drones walking the frames and even flying, I had yet to find capped drone brood in mine. No drones anywhere. I went ahead and performed the split after talking with a mentor of mine. He said that just because I didn't have drones didn't mean there were no drones available for mating, it simply meant my colonies weren't ready to contribute to the mating process. That made a lot of sense to me. I have at least a decent feral population of honeybees. I've always had bees foraging on dandelions in my yard and pastures in the spring, even before I had colonies of my own. I guess what I'm suggesting is talk to any other local beekeeper in your area and see if they have drones. If they do, it's quite possible you're able to do it sooner than your home colonies indicate.

Thanks Grasshopper!
That makes sense

Glen
 

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Bottom line is, availability of sufficient drones and warm enough daytime temperatures that both drones and queens can "go out together".
True, but it's also about raising quality cells, and to raise quality cells you need the resources…both in nurse bees and forage. The bees know when there is an abundance of each, and start their queen rearing at that point. Picking a bloom like dandelion/fruit bloom, which is about when we begin to see swarm preps, is a good guideline on when to start.
 

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>How do you know when it is safe to start grafting queens in a given area.

If I don't see a lot of drones flying, it's too early. I have a few flying, I have some purple eyed drones, but I don't have enough flying yet... also not enough bees yet...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
>How do you know when it is safe to start grafting queens in a given area.

If I don't see a lot of drones flying, it's too early. I have a few flying, I have some purple eyed drones, but I don't have enough flying yet... also not enough bees yet...
Thanks Michael
I'm in the same stage here, not enough drones yet, will wait another week or two.


Glen
 
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