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Age of the larva, skill of the grafter, time of day, keeping them warm and moist...they are all important factors.

The most important factors I have found are: 1) grafted during the peak increase of the main nectar and pollen flow in the Spring; 2) the number of 5- to 10 day old nurse bees present. 10 imported frames of capped brood 10 days before grafting is huge, as it provides 30,000 excess nurse bees in an abnaturally strong queen cell raiser hive; 3) the colony is abnaturally fed with real pollen frames imported, pollen substitute patties, 1:1 sugar syrup, and a MAJOR nectar / pollen flow right outside the door.

So, too much food and too many nurse bees eager to feed the queen cells, suddenly made queenless at 72 hours after egg-lay and not a larvae nor an egg to feed anywhere...AAAHGGGG! Then, suddenly, at 80 to 90 hours a beekeeper gives them the grafts. Whoopie hayoo kayee!!! It suddenly becomes a SUPERCHARGED ROYAL JELLY FACTORY on steroids. The nurse bees DIVE IN and feed the grafts royal jelly like you've rarely seen.

My best acceptance rates occur when the larvae are between 80 and 90 hours after the queen mother has been isolated on the new comb in the queen excluder box known as a Pritchard box. I thought I had invented them, and I used to call them "breeder queen jails", but Pritchard came up with the exact same idea long before I did. Oldtimer pointed out that the Pritchard box helps to prevent one queen emerging too early and destroying other queen cells, as it aids in keeping the larvae all very nearly the same age.
 

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My best acceptance rates occur when [...] the queen mother has been isolated on the new comb in the queen excluder box known as a Pritchard box. I thought I had invented them, and I used to call them "breeder queen jails", but Pritchard came up with the exact same idea long before I did. Oldtimer pointed out that the Pritchard box helps to prevent one queen emerging too early and destroying other queen cells, as it aids in keeping the larvae all very nearly the same age.
Never heard the term "Pritchard box" before - I guess it's the same as the "Dutch Cage" Laidlaw mentioned in one of his books ? I tried for ages to get more info on this rare beast called a Dutch Cage, only to find that most people call these "Queen Traps", and that their use is fairly common.

Here's an all-metal version from Thornes here in the UK - which is not particularly cheap:



Not that difficult to make your own (although not as grand as the above) - I keep meaning to make one - 'tis on the 'to do' list ... :)
LJ

PS - if making your own - it has occurred to me that if this box had interchangeable sides: QX or Mesh, then it could also be used as an infallible means of introducing a queen to a hostile colony. Just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
I guess I never updated this thread. After having miserable results the entire season with the nicot cups no matter what I did I decided to make a change. I pulled out my trusty JZBZ frame with cups and used it for the last round of grafting of the year. No priming or any other frivolity to try and improve my take rate. 80% of them took.

I rigged up the nicot cages on the JZBZ cups using craft sticks and wire. That also worked and enabled me to keep the virgins banked until I can get the nucs ready for them. I will post pictures of that arrangement later.

So, it was reassuring to me to know that I can still graft and whatever is wrong seems limited to the nicot cups. They were knockoff so maybe the plastic has something they didn't like?
 

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Is it the real Nicot plastic or some cheap Chinese copy of Nicot?

Some distributors startet selling "Nicot" cups and it wasn't the original but the cheap stuff. Still they advertised it as "Nicot"...the more honest distributors called it "Nicot like"...
 

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"Better than Nature ..." Oh dear :eek:

Seems that the Eugenics Movement
Dear, Eugenic... :s


Nature never breeds for the best – contrary to the common belief (read: misunderstanding) what Darwin said. It breeds for the average and for survival.

That manmade queens are "better" than natural queens is not a surprise. Nothing to do with eugenics. What is better for us, is not better for Nature. The way it is. We don't eat wild carrots but garden carrots. Garden carrots are bigger and "better". For us. Not for the rest of the living World. But for us. Because it feeds us, unlike wild carrots.
 

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I started grafting at 12 yrs old, I would go any younger than that. :scratch:
 

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Age of the larva, skill of the grafter, time of day, keeping them warm and moist...they are all important factors.

The most important factors I have found are: 1) grafted during the peak increase of the main nectar and pollen flow in the Spring; 2) the number of 5- to 10 day old nurse bees present. 10 imported frames of capped brood 10 days before grafting is huge, as it provides 30,000 excess nurse bees in an abnaturally strong queen cell raiser hive; 3) the colony is abnaturally fed with real pollen frames imported, pollen substitute patties, 1:1 sugar syrup, and a MAJOR nectar / pollen flow right outside the door.

So, too much food and too many nurse bees eager to feed the queen cells, suddenly made queenless at 72 hours after egg-lay and not a larvae nor an egg to feed anywhere...AAAHGGGG! Then, suddenly, at 80 to 90 hours a beekeeper gives them the grafts. Whoopie hayoo kayee!!! It suddenly becomes a SUPERCHARGED ROYAL JELLY FACTORY on steroids. The nurse bees DIVE IN and feed the grafts royal jelly like you've rarely seen.

My best acceptance rates occur when the larvae are between 80 and 90 hours after the queen mother has been isolated on the new comb in the queen excluder box known as a Pritchard box. I thought I had invented them, and I used to call them "breeder queen jails", but Pritchard came up with the exact same idea long before I did. Oldtimer pointed out that the Pritchard box helps to prevent one queen emerging too early and destroying other queen cells, as it aids in keeping the larvae all very nearly the same age.
Great post. I would only take issue with the requirement of an ongoing major nectar flow and no larvae or eggs in the hive or did I misunderstand. I’ve found heavy nectar flows to be a nuisance as the bees are so anxious to build comb around the grafts. Love a heavy pollen flow with a minimal amount of new nectar and then supplement with light feed regularly. While a lack of open brood is certainly desirable, I don’t see it as a requirement if the hive is sufficiently populated. I do make a point of minimizing open brood adjacent to newly started cells however.
 

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Dear, Eugenic... :s

Nature never breeds for the best – contrary to the common belief (read: misunderstanding) what Darwin said. It breeds for the average and for survival.
Agreed - but Darwin never said "best" in the sense of highest performing - he said "best fitted" (as in "survival of the fittest" - which were actually Wallace's words, not Darwin's) - meaning best suited for a particular ecological niche.

That manmade queens are "better" than natural queens is not a surprise. Nothing to do with eugenics. What is better for us, is not better for Nature. The way it is. We don't eat wild carrots but garden carrots. Garden carrots are bigger and "better". For us. Not for the rest of the living World. But for us. Because it feeds us, unlike wild carrots.
That is exactly what was at the heart of my earlier comment. You appear to have bought into the Judeo-Christian Genesis doctrine which separates human beings from the rest of the Natural World - as if we are completely separate from it - nothing to do with us, etc. The Earth and it's wildlife - plant-life and animals - have been placed on the Earth for us to use according to our whims and fancies.

Of course Nature breeds to the average - that's why it's the average. So why don't we ? "More and More" - it's one of our basic paradigms. Clever, but not very wise - because a continuous increase of anything is impossible in the long term. And killing-off the genes of what we view as being lesser performers most certainly is Eugenics.
LJ
 

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Well, Jim, if the nectar flow is THAT good, yeah, wait for walnuts to bloom - mostly all green pollen. There are others, but you are Jim Lyon, and you perhaps know them better than me!!! :D

Perhaps I left out that the bees should be crowded real thick in the cell builder. Boiling over the top.

Yes, I do start the queen cells in QUEENLESS cell builder just to get absolute control of the timing so they all start at once, and they tend to start plenty of cells that way. Not that it is a must, it just helps prevent one virgin queen from emerging early. They can go back to queenright later.

**************

Little John - My Pritchard boxes are wooden on the bottom and ends, made of queen excluder on the sides, and they have a pop-off sheet metal top. I make a sheet metal angle to hang the Pritchard box on the frame shelf of the beehive box. The boxes are 3 frames and 4 bee spaces wide on the inside, and fit inside like an oversize frame or feeder.

The special frames that go inside the Pritchard boxes are shorter and not as deep as normal frames - the Pritchard boxes have their own frame shelves. They are not as deep because the box is the depth of a frame, and they have a wooden floor, and you need to leave a gap between the Pritchard cage frame and the floor of the box.

In order to get the Pritchard box frames drawn out, I screw them onto a normal sized frame top bar with 2 drywall screws. The bars are painted pink for quick identification. I place one at a time in between two frames of open brood in a strong, increasing colony.

They are used for isolating a breeder queen so that I know where she is and don't have to look all over for correct age brood at grafting time, to be sure it is HER brood, and it helps prevent one queen emerging a day before the others and going on a queen cell killing spree.
 

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Little John - My Pritchard boxes are wooden on the bottom and ends, made of queen excluder on the sides, and they have a pop-off sheet metal top. [...] etc.
Many thanks for that description. I'd never heard the term 'Pritchard Box' before, nor heard of anyone using custom-sized frames in such a way.

This was the first reference I came across re: such cages (from Laidlaw) :

in which he uses a cage to keep the Queen out - away from q/cells - rather like how we use roller cages today. But the beauty of these types of cage is that they can either be used to keep the Queen IN or OUT, and so could be very flexible in their use.
With mesh sides, seems to me such an all-encompassing cage could even be used to introduce a Q+ve Nuc into a working Q-ve colony 'on the fly', without any drop in activity. Maybe. Or at least a frame of emerging brood with a Queen - not unlike an over-sized push-in queen cage.
'best
LJ
 

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Yes, I do start the queen cells in QUEENLESS cell builder just to get absolute control of the timing so they all start at once, and they tend to start plenty of cells that way. Not that it is a must, it just helps prevent one virgin queen from emerging early. They can go back to queenright later.

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Of course, big difference and I agree, It does give you better control of the process. Sounds like you’ve got a good system going. We use queenright cell builders and as long as we see ample rj at 24 hours, we usually allow them to finish as well. I won’t get long winded about my take on the pros and cons.
BTW, Ive seen this only rarely and heard other cell raisers confirm that builders will occasionally “cut” cells in a heavy flow.
Green pollen from walnuts? Interesting, is that a pro or con for cell production?
 

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I wish I knew more. Thee walnuts here tend to bloom 2 or 3 weeks to a month and a half after I've grafted my first batch of queen cells. The walnut orchards are declining, mostly 125+ years old, and not many trees left.

That said, my best guess is that it would help a queen rearing effort - the bees do seem to like walnut pollen, but it seems that very little nectar comes from them. If your colonies buildup rate has you raring queens coinciding with walnut bloom, I'd bet you'd do well.

When I get my apiary back up to enough colonies to go out pollinating again, I'll take a bunch up to a large walnut orchard near one of my fishing holes right as they bloom. I'll try to run a couple batches of queen cells in the 6-frame ventilated nuc's and see how that pollen flow works out.

That orchard is in it's production prime and well cared-for. I'll check with the owner to get his permission and see how he is about spraying. It's about 250+ miles North of Ojai, so the timing may be different. I suppose that star thistle may be blooming by then, and you know mustard will be open. I hope the fishing is good. I'll probably stay at the lake while I'm not working the bees. :D
 

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Transcriptomic, Morphological, and Developmental Comparison of Adult Honey Bee Queens (Apis mellifera) Reared From Eggs or Worker Larvae of Differing Ages

Discussion

Fertile queens can be produced by the commercial queen breeding practice of rearing queens from transplanted young worker larvae, but our research shows that adult queens of different larval rearing types (E, L1, L2, and L3) differed in their morphology, development time, and transcriptome.

Queens reared from older worker brood are lighter (Fig. 2D) and had fewer ovarioles (Fig. 2E) than queens reared from eggs. This result is consistent with earlier studies (Woyke 1971, Hatch et al. 1999, He et al. 2017) and successfully replicates an important result. The reduced ovariole number of queens reared from later age worker larvae is a concern because ovariole number is a key factor for queens reproductive capacity (Woyke 1971, Bouletreau-Merle 1978), which has a direct impact on colony growth and productivity (Rangel et al. 2012).

Our data showed that there were differences in development between our rearing groups post-transfer to the same uniform queen cells. The duration of development until emergence differed between our groups: developmental time increased significantly as the age of the transferred larva increased (Fig. 2C); therefore, queens reared from older larvae developed more slowly than the queens reared from younger brood. Typically workers have a significantly longer developmental period than queens (despite being smaller), and so this result suggests that the developmental cycle of queens reared from worker larvae is partially intercaste. The consequences of a longer developmental time would be significant in a natural colony. A colony would naturally produce several queens who, on emergence, fight to the death until only one remains. The first queen to emerge has a major advantage because she can kill her rivals, whereas they are still in their queen cells (Winston 1991). In a natural colony, queens reared from an older worker larvae would be unlikely to survive because of their lighter weight and slower development.

The queen cell lengths were shorter for queens reared from older worker larvae than queens reared from eggs (Fig. 2A and Supp Fig. S1 [online only]), and the amount of royal jelly remaining in the queen cell postemergence of the adult queen also decreased with age of transplant (Fig. 2B). We propose that the decline in residual royal jelly with increasing age of the transplanted larva could be due to workers having less time to provision the queen larva prior to pupation (Guo et al. 2015). This factor, along with the larvae obtaining a smaller size by pupation, probably contributes to the decrease in size of the sealed queen cell. The important point is that there are consequences of the age of larval transfer for the entire developmental cycle of the queen. The developmental environment did not become uniform once eggs or larvae were transferred to the artificial queen cell. This probably contributed to the differences in adult queen phenotype we observed and the differences in transcriptomes.

Number of DEGs of larvae (L1, L2, and L3) groups compared with E group increased with the transferred age of worker larvae. Further analyses showed that many of these genes had functional classifications related to reproduction, longevity (Corona and Robinson 2006, Barry and Camargo 2013, He et al. 2017, Yin et al. 2018, Walton et al. 2020), immunity (Barribeau et al. 2015, Boutin et al. 2015), or metabolism (Figs. 3 and 5; Supp Tables S4 and S6 [online only]). This is concerning because these are key traits that differentiate queens and workers and directly contribute to queen health, longevity, and vigor. If queens are compromised in these traits, it threatens the survival and growth of whole colonies.

KEGG analysis indicated that DEGs of all comparisons between larvae groups and E group were mainly involved in metabolic pathways (Fig. 4 and Supp Table S5 [online only]), while the greatest and most abundant differences of DEGs in the comparison of queens and workers were also in genes related to metabolic processes (Severson et al. 1989, Corona et al. 1999, Evans and Wheeler 1999). This suggests that queens reared from worker larvae differ in metabolic function compared with queens reared from worker eggs.

In summary, our data reinforce the interpretation that queens reared from older worker larvae are partially intercaste (Severson et al. 1989, Corona et al. 1999, Evans and Wheeler 1999). Queens reared from older worker larvae, while viable and appearing normal, had reduced reproductive capacity. Transcriptomic analyses suggested compromised immunity and longevity in queens reared from older worker larvae. In view of this, we recommend transferring eggs or larvae as young as possible from worker cells to queen cells for the rearing of high-quality queens.

Yao Yi, Yi Bo Liu, Andrew B Barron, Zhi Jiang Zeng, Transcriptomic, Morphological, and Developmental Comparison of Adult Honey Bee Queens (Apis mellifera) Reared From Eggs or Worker Larvae of Differing Ages, Journal of Economic Entomology, , toaa188, https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/toaa188

https://academic.oup.com/jee/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jee/toaa188/5899428



Alter-Larven-Umlarven-Auswirkungen.jpg
 

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That's a terrible idea. *jealous*
Yes, I hate it when the fishing is just too **** good! But then again, that has only happened to me once, when I went to Lake Casitas to find peace and quiet to study for final exams. I caught t full buckets of crappie - they just would not stop biting. I finally put the tackle down and read my physics book, my notes, and went over my homework. That was a difficult decision.
 

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Bernard - your posts are just too awesome. I know to really perk up and memorize your information. You are a true hero of Beesource. Thank you.

Thanks also to all the other real pros who take time to explain things here - Oldtimer, Jim Lyon, Michael Palmer, JWChesnut, Fusion-power, Michael Bush, and to 40 or so others who have put so many truths and practical experience here for us all to benefit.

Thanks to all those hobbyists who have contributed excellent bits and pieces along the way, and for asking so many questions! These have helped!

Thanks also to the professors at the universities, to Randy Oliver, to Joe Traynor, to Dr. Gordon Wardell, Dr. Seely, Kim Flottum, the people at the Federal Bee Research Laboratories, and the many, many more who take beekeeping so seriously and keep moving us forward.

Thanks to those who have gone before us and paved the way to success. Their names are legendary, and their books and articles have guided our efforts, our research, and saved us countless hours of effort.

The helpful information, practical advice, strategic thinking, and wisdom have been the biggest factors in my learning this game. I owe a great debt of gratitude to all.
 

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kilocharlie,
good to have you back connected.
 
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