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Discussion Starter #1
I've been dabbling at queen rearing, and I've about come to the conclusion that my eyes aren't good enough to graft. A friend and I have pooled our resources recently and it looks like we are going to produce about 12 good cells from 30 (of his) grafts - not bad for beginners I think. Anyway I've been looking at the Jenter and Nicot systems and got to wondering if something like this will work -



Some JZBZ cups, a piece of excluder, and some wood - pretty simple if it will work. Anybody ever tried this before?

The cell spacing is wider than with the store bought systems I know, but what I'm really wondering is since the JZBZ cups are so big will the queen lay drone brood?

Anyway, for curiosity sake I'm gonna try it.
 

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I've not used the jenter, but I've used nicot, and with it, the queen thinks she's laying in a worker sized cell so you get fertile eggs. Getting her to lay into JZBZ cell cups, I bet she lays drones.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I bet you're right. After sleeping on it I think I'm gonna try this - fill them all up with wax and then use various sized drill bits to put holes back in (turning them by hand of course) and see what size (if any) works.

Do you think the wide spacing will matter - or is a laying queen like a chicken caught off the nest and will lay about anywhere when the urge strikes?
 

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i bought an ez-queen system a few years ago (simlar to jenter and nicot, but much higher capacity), but have found grafting much easier.

i got some x3.25 reading glasses at the dollar store, a bright white led flashlight, and cheap chinese grafting tools.

i lay the frame on the kitchen table, lay the cell bar on the bottom of the frame (towards me), and have one hand for the flashlight and one for the grafting tool. the extra light really helps (and the led light is not hot), and there may be some advantage to being able to move the light independantly (instead of having it mounted to your head) so you can see the light glare off the surface of the larvae.

i'd at least try some magnifcation and extra light before writing grafting off completely.

deknow
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm not giving up on grafting, I'm just considering alternatives. If what I'm working on is succesful I should be able to take the bars out of the larva donor hive, pull off the "mask" strip and then put them right into the cell builder frame without having to move the cells around - they are already on bars that slide right into the frame.
 

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I often hear how people considering raising queens are often intimidated at the prospect of grafting.

I'm 55 y.o. and have very poor eyesight. When I'm preparing to graft, I place strong reading glasses over my prescription lenses, wear a powerful LED headlight, and have sunlight shining over my shoulder, if possible. Under these conditions grafting isn't a breeze, but after some practice, it is fairly simple and straightforward.

If it's a choice of using a graftless system or grafting, I'll take grafting any day. It is much easier, for me, to select a frame of appropriate aged larvae, graft a few dozen, or a hundred or more, than it is to wait for the graftless system to have appropriate aged larva available.

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I too would like to hear if David has any update for us.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
It went like this: I tried it one time with no success, then got a lighted 2.5x Donegan Optivisor and proceeded to consistently have 80% or better success at grafting - and never tried the home made graftless thing again. And I probably won't because I have much more anxiety about handling my favorite queen to cage her than I do now about grafting.

I actually did fill the cell cups with wax and then used a drill bit to make an appropriate sized hole in the wax. The queen layed in most of them, and then when I released the queen the workers cleaned them out.

Anyone who is thinking about raising queens but intimidated by grafting needs to be reassured that it just isn't very hard to do - and you will get much better at it really fast. Just don't plan to be a pro the first time.

BTW, with the optivisor (jewelers visor that you can get online) grafting kinda is a breeze - plus it's fascinating to use it sometimes just to examine a frame of bees. I highly recommend it.
 

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Gonna let you guys into a dark secret from my past! :eek:.

As a young guy when I was starting out in beekeeping, one day the boss said to me "hey Al, you go to the shed and do the grafting today".

I'd seen grafting done often enough, when I was the gofer. But the boss was a hard old guy and I was too afraid to tell him I'd never done it.

So, I went to the shed, picked up the grafting tool, and started. Someone else was the gofer. Then an anxious wait till the next day to see what kind of set I got. But when we had a look, Whew! very high acceptance. I then became the guy that did all the grafting.

So my advice to others, just try it. You might surprise yourself.
 

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Thanks for the update, My curiosity was aroused from the article in Bee Culture last month about graftless systems. I'll readily admit the grafting I did this spring (although a very low percentage due to inexperience) gave me far more queens than I had resources to deal with. I'm looking forward to next spring with some more nucs, more drawn comb and more experience grafting. Thanks again for the update.

Tim
 
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