Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
507 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Traditional grafting cannot be done prior to the larvae stage and so usually transporting between apiaries is done post grafting and at the larvae stage, when stores, feeding, and density of nurse bees are all critical.

Use of a Nicot cage (or any similar 'graftless' queen breeding system) allows the possibility for the graft to be performed at the egg stage. Is there any reason this is a bad idea? Has anyone tried it?

In any case, it seems like transporting at the egg stage would be much easier than transporting at the larvae stage - sufficient nurse bees are needed to maintain temperature of the eggs, but there is much less complexity surrounding honey and pollen stores, density of nurse bees, and the feeding of royal jelly to the young larvae.

I am planning on transporting at the 2-day-old egg stage (30 minute drive) in the Nicot cage which will be kept warm by a few frames of nurse bees in a small transport nuc. Immediatly after arrival at my home apiary, I plan to graft a first top bar at the egg stage and then place the remaining eggs (still in the Nicot cage) into a queen-right colony for another two days until they are 1-day-old larvae, at which time I plan to graft a second top bar with 1-day old larvae.

If someone has already done this experiment and can tell me which will work better, or if there is a reason trasporting and/or grafting at the egg stage is a bad idea, I don't want to waste my time on this experiment. Otherwise, am interested in exploring the option the Nicot cage opens up of grafting at the egg stage and seeing how it compares to grafting at the larvae stage (in which case I will report back on my findings).

Any experience, advice, or opinions for this Nicot novice appreciated.

-fafrd
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
119 Posts
I tried grafting eggs and bee cleaned them from the queen cup. I would be interested to here if anyone had this work. I would be shocked if it did.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,618 Posts
Aside from the fact that bee eggs are very difficult to handle, the main reason for grafting (transferring) larvae is you can tell what age they are.

If you give a frame to a queen and pull it at four days, the larvae will be one day old or less. The eggs will be anything from zero to three days old.

Once you get a sense of the correct size, you will recognize a one or two day old larva. One day old is just about too small to pick up, about the size of the egg. Two day olders are a bit easier to see and handle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,136 Posts
I think that it works. This year I pulled my Jenter from the donor hive and started transferring cell plugs to the frames. I noticed that the first one was a larva, but about the size of an egg.

The next ones were all still eggs although some were starting to lay down. I thought back and realized that I was probably 12 hours ahead of the prime time to move the cell plugs.

I went ahead and moved mostly eggs. I got the same take as I get when I move all larva. I also started thinking that as long as the cell builder has been queenless and has no larva or eggs that I could have probably moved the plugs at the same time that I released the queen.

I made my cell builder by moving the queen below an excluder for 9 days and then separating the two boxes leaving the cell builder where the original hive was. I moved the queenright hive to another location. So I could have probably moved eggs from my Jenter to the cell builder directly (which was kind of what I did).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
507 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Aside from the fact that bee eggs are very difficult to handle, the main reason for grafting (transferring) larvae is you can tell what age they are.

If you give a frame to a queen and pull it at four days, the larvae will be one day old or less. The eggs will be anything from zero to three days old.

Once you get a sense of the correct size, you will recognize a one or two day old larva. One day old is just about too small to pick up, about the size of the egg. Two day olders are a bit easier to see and handle.
Thanks for the response, Peter. Some comments:

For conventional grafting, I completely understand both points and agree.

With a Nicot Cage, on the other hand, eggs can be handled as easily as larvae (motivating my original post). In addition, if the queen in only left in the Nicot Cage for a total of 24 hours (as some including Michael Bush advocate), the age of the eggs can known within 24 rather than 84 hours.

Also, since most of the timelines I have seen are only accurate to within +/-24 hours (8 days +/- 1 day to capping, 16 days +/-1 day to emergence), it seems like knowing the age of an egg to within a day or two is about as accurate as you need.

The Nicot System makes handling eggs practical and easy, but because of all the warnings about bees in the starter cell cleaning out eggs from another queen but accepting larvae, I decided to wait a total of 5 days from when the queen was first caged to graft and only graft 0-1.5 day old larvae (the queen was released after 48 hours).

Next time I may try to graft a day earlier and attempt to graft half of the bar with young larve (3.5 - 4 days from egg laying) and half of the bar with old eggs (2-3.5 days old) to compare acceptance.

-fafrd
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,120 Posts
>Is there any reason this is a bad idea?

It's a great idea.

> Has anyone tried it?

Yes, and it doesn't work. Maybe if the eggs were in the process of hatching you might get them to not eat the eggs, but my experience is they just remove them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
507 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
>Is there any reason this is a bad idea?

It's a great idea.

> Has anyone tried it?

Yes, and it doesn't work. Maybe if the eggs were in the process of hatching you might get them to not eat the eggs, but my experience is they just remove them.
I've gotton two beautiful queen cells out of my first attempt of grafting/transferring at the early larvae stage (few larvae in the Nicot Cage apparently because I let the cups get honey-bound before introducing the queen and did not clean it out for the queen - lesson for next time).

Next time I am going to try grafting/transferring a first bar on day 3 and a second bar on day 4 so I can compare acceptance/rejection of 'old' eggs within twelve hours prior to hatching and 'very young' larvae that have recently hatched within the last 12 hours.

I'm not in this to generate a high number of queens anyway, and I am interested in understanding these differences on the rateof success, especially in terms of options to transport eggs/larvae from a remote donor hive...

-fafrd
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top