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Discussion Starter #1
Last year we made our first attempts to graft queens. I will just say that due to a long list of errors it was not much more than comical.

We learned a lot and this spring Micheal Palmer was kind enough to give me some direction specifically concerning our situation. The photo below is the result.

32 of 45 grafts accepted and capped 71% acceptance.

My thanks to Micheal for making a huge difference in our methods in every way.

I attribute most of the 29% failure to poor larva to graft from. we had just come out of a cold snap and the larva where not on much jelly.
10001576_10202293444709949_1298913252608101546_n.jpg
 

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That's nice Daniel. I would recommend "quick checking" your grafts at 24 to 48 hours and move all the takes into the center of the frames. It can save some of your good cells on the far ends of the frame from getting chilled on a cold night. Pay close attention to those outside ones, if they have more jelly in them than the center ones it's a pretty good indication of cold damage. It's surprising how even the strongest builder can pull off the outside ones on a cold night.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Jim, We did check them after 24 hours and had 36 started at that time. I had not thought about the outsides getting colder. Important for us since our nights stay chilly pretty much year round.
 

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Nice going!
I noticed that too, my first graft donor frame had little jelly in the cells. First grafts were very dry. Tossed a queen in the grid from a hive that would take up 1:1 and the jelly was much better. My second take was more like yours, although my cell builder is still not up to strength.

It's still very early, but every day get closer to prime season and better fed larva.
 

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Give it a box of emerging brood?
It's still early here. I don't want to get too geared up for another couple weeks. But the box does have a lot of emerging brood in it. Just hasn't hatched quite yet. By the time this second batch of cells are capped it will be good to go as a strong starter.
I've got them in a 10 frame deep with interior feeder. 5+ solid frames of capped brood.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Laurie, We started our cell builder on March 21st with the intent to graft on the 31st. Weather disrupted those plans for 5 dyas as well as effected every hive in our apiary for two weeks. not the best of situations. so we where forced to ad lib with our first attempt. On April 5th we where able to add 5 additional fraems of capped brood to the cell builder. making it a total of 15 frames of capped brood put in this cell builder. We then grated on the 6th. The cells in the photo are just old enough to be capped. We moved them to an incubator at the time the photo was taken and will reunite the cell builder with it's queen today and add another 10 frames of capped brood.

I am chomping at the bit to start a second round of grafts but once again limited equipment is preventing that. I have room for additional virgin queens but am concerned about swarming. I want to save as many swarm cells as possible as well.
 

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That sure looks good, hope mine do that well. Grafted for the first time yesterday, will see how it goes.
 

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Why do u suppose the middle bar is full and there are gaps in the middle of the bottom and two places on the top? Do you think the gaps were because of something that happened during the transfer from comb to cell cup? Or the grafting of older larvae? Or something in the finisher?
 

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Larva from queen cups 54 and 51 always mysteriously disappear..
 

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Looking good Daniel, it gets better the more you do it. I have found that cells on center frames do better also. Perhaps my cell builders are not crowded enough, perhaps the center does better as that bar is in the center of the builder box with more bees and stores next to it?
 

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A guy I know who raises a lot of cells uses two bars, not three. Maybe that would increase your success.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Mark, I have since discovered that this cell builder had made an additional 14 queen cells on frames of brood. this is a total of 53 cells at once. The wild cells do not look nearly as good.

As for the completeness of the bars. The middle one came from cells that where well provisioned with jelly. To a degree of obvious difference. each bar was grafted from a different queen. The bottom one came form one of our best queens if no our best queen ever. but she is getting old and starting to fail. We have a couple of her daughters from last year an their performance is beyond anything I expected. I hope to graft many queens form this old lady but with a faltering hive it is taking it's toll on the suitability of her larva to be grafted. We are taking steps to artificially boost her support population. For now it is simply hard in every way to get a new queen reared from her brood. The top bar was to a lot better. these bees had just come out of a two week cold snap and brood tending seemed to be suffering throughout the apiary.

Also i am just getting back into the groove of grafting after the winter break. the bars where grafted by me in the following order. lowest upper and then middle. maybe I just got better as I went along. I know for a fact I got faster. the last bar taking less than 5 minutes from being removed from the hive to cups being placed in the cell builder.

I contacted Micheal Palmer about just what queens to select to rear queens from and in what ratios. As a result this faltering queen is my number one selection for increasing from. and according to Micheal if I want to expand to 200 hives. this one queen should account for 150 of those colonies. We now have two of her daughters and 6 queen cells. and that is the result so far from making over 100 attempts to graft from this queen. Now just how many ways can fait get stacked against you? But I will not give up. as of today we will set up the cell builder again. and this time all 45 grafts will be from this one queen. In the mean time we will add nurse bees to her colony and feed them to encourage more jelly in each cell. I am just concerned there is an issue with the overall health of this colony that is causing the poorly provisioned cells.

Anyway that is my take on the whole issue.
 

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Great analysis. What's the lineage of your favorite queen? Any idea? Carniolan? Or what?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Mark, As far as I know she is a mutt that I captured in a swarm at work last year. A local beekeeper is the one that suggested she may be the old queen and in the process of failing. But she made enough of a showing last year to get me to try and increase from her. it was her daughters that sealed the deal. This spring one of them has gone from a 5 over 5 nuc to 40 frames in two months. and has our record so far of 18 frames of brood. and these are not little spots of brood. they are fully filled or at the least proper brood frames with a band of pollen and honey at the top. I expect to add a 5th box to her hive in the next week or two. She produces just beautiful textbook frames of brood just like her mother did. They also already have 10 frames of honey and the flow has not even started.

I do not think I have any Russian genetics in my bees since nothing flies below 50 and some not until it is 55 degrees. Other beekeepers say that Carniolans prevail in this area. I do not know enough about the traits of the varies types to make a guess. The queen is a tan color. I call those with that color golden queens. Laurie has a photo somewhere around here that looks just like her. All I know is that she is the best I have. And I am not all that short on good queens in the first place. 6 out of my total of 21 queens right now are good healthy producers. I get them all from swarm captures. Cut outs seem to always be dud queens. Figures, hardest work for least reward.
 

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A quick question. I am going to reunite the cell builder with the queen right part of the hive today. do need to use newspaper to make the combine or just stack the cell builder back on? The only thing I have ever seen mentioned is that it is put back together but never really thought of the details until now.j
 

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Part of the reason I use foamboard boxes (made with 1-1/4" or 1-1/2" thick foamboard, lined with aluminum tape), is that the bees are much better able to maintain optimum conditions throughout the cell builder box, despite conditions outside the box (either cold or hot). Cells on the ends of cell bars are cared for and maintained no differently than the cells in the center of the bars. Despite the dimensions, as shown in the drawing below, I only use medium depth frames, these boxes are only used as queen cell growing boxes, and the extra space below the frames is to accommodate the clustering of a very large population of nurse bees.


I've made them with a bottom of foamboard, permanently attached to the boxes, and also that I use a piece of foamboard where I just set the foamboard boxes onto it. Either way works just fine, though I've cut small holes into the corners of the boxes with attached bottoms (for drainage) and that isn't necessary if the bottoms aren't attached.

In some ways it is bothersome to create these special boxes in order to raise queen cells in. So, I've been considering making some foamboard sleeves/shells that will fit over the outsides of regular supers or nucs, so that the insulative benefit can be added to any super, and then used to grow cells in.
 

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A quick question. I am going to reunite the cell builder with the queen right part of the hive today. do need to use newspaper to make the combine or just stack the cell builder back on? The only thing I have ever seen mentioned is that it is put back together but never really thought of the details until now.j
If you have been careful when using the cell builder to grow cells, but especially afterwards, so that you can be certain they haven't developed laying worker problems, or haven't somehow acquired a queen. Then they are hopelessly queenless bees. I often use cell builder colonies as sources of booster bees, adding them, with impunity, to weaker nucs or other colonies that could use an influx of bees to boost them, which could, of course, include their parent colony. No special care need be taken.
 
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