I checked the bar frame that I grafted 36 cells into. I had only 6 cells that were being drawn down and 2 of them were not worth keeping. Below is a list of things that I feel confident I did right:
Strong starter with only young bees in a single 5 frame nuc. This was being fed with honey.
The cell bar was installed the day prior to grafting.
Larvae were absolutely less than 24 hours old.
Things I am questioning:
Reused JZBZ cups after cleaning and dipping in molten wax. These were used in 2 previous tries. I have more on order but used these after reading people here have no problem using them over again.
Primed with royal jelly from the attempt 2-3 days earlier which yielded disappointing results. I harvested the jelly and refrigerated it for 1-2 days. Is it possible I suffocated the larvae? I made sure to float them onto the jelly in the same orientation and is discarded any larvae I picked up that I thought I may have flipped or touched the sides of the cell.
I grafted each bar and placed it in the frame withing 5-10 minutes and kept all larvae covered with a damp cloth.
I know I've asked over and over again so I'm sorry for continuing but I need Queens and also want to learn more. I suspect it is something I am overlooking because so many people can get this done and I'm just coming up short.
Did you give them a frame with POLLEN on it? It requires pollen to have the girls make the royal jelly. Remember that the feed is to simulate a flow, the pollen frame is to help feed the girls and to stimulate royal jelly production. Both natural and substitute pollen can work for this.
Yes the jelly was warmed for sure. It was only about a teaspoon in a syringe which may have taken 15 minutes to warm. I just put a dot into the bottom of the cups and then grafted so the jelly in contact with the cup prior to placing a larvae in it would have been time enough as well.
I have more jzbz cups coming. I grafted again today and I reused the dud cups. The bars have been in the starter for four days and the bees had made a small wax ring around the lip so I placed the bars in my solar melted and this lip of wax just melted into the bottom and I grafted into these. They were all I had to use. After reading all those that use the cups over and over I figured cups that have been in a starter colony likely got a lot of attention but maybe I was wrong to use these. The starter was already situated so I felt like I wanted to give it a shot. If I had to wait for the new cups I'd have had to reallocate the bees in the starter.
There was also plenty of pollen and honey in this 5 frame nuc. It had 4 deep frames of both capped and uncapped honey and at least 1/2 solid deep frame of pollen.
What confounds me is that the grafts were not accepted. It isn't that the bees started the majority then ran out of steam and left me with undernourished larvae. It is the initial 3 hour to one day acceptance that I'm not getting. Last graft of 36 gave me 6 cells. One I destroyed and the other 5 I had placed in a strong queenless hive just to see what they would become. I figured they would be garbage but I checked them today and they look average so I'm letting them complete.
Having trouble getting out of the gate so to speak.
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