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There are a few good tips here. Here's a summary.
  • Maybe I won't worry about depositing them upside down. I flip a lot of them over getting them out of the cells and so I'll quit fiddling with that, just transfer them and see, because I usually squash them trying to get them back over.
  • Try a brush
  • contact comb with hand to steady it.
  • thin and narrow the tip of my Chinese tools.
  • put a tiny drop of water in the cell
  • approach larvae from the back
  • priming the cell. I mentioned in my Cloake board method update that the girls had also made cells on one of the brood frames I promoted above the Cloake and that I was going to keep a couple of those cells and transfer that entire frame. I was planning on culling all but two of them today, I'll harvest the royal jelly.
  • soak the tool.
  • misting the comb with a sprayer before grafting.
I think I have decided to graft again this coming weekend even though I don't have enough mating nucs. The hive is still set up with the cloake board and it's a chance to try and practice some of these suggestions. If nothing else I'll have some royal jelly for when I graft in August for September mated queens to overwinter.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Some good food for thought;

Let us know on the flipping thing. If it really does not make a difference it might kill a myth! I want to try some of those items too.

I reduced the tip size further on my grafting needles and experimented a bit more with lighting and close up lenses. I may be sharper eyed without my glasses.

More live practice tomorrow, though I dont have a colony set up with the Cloake board.
 

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my grafting acceptance gets better each year. In my opinion its just a matter of repetitions. Its a skill that takes practice.
 

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I use the Chinese tool. Sanded down the nib, and bit the tip to create a permanent bend in it that helps a lot with getting it to slide under the larvae without punching through the bottom of the cell.
 

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I started grafting this year at 72 years old, long sighted and varifocal spectacles.

Sanded down chinese tool https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_lkl6DCCyM

Bought a second hand Donegan Optivisor 3.5 magnification headband with LED light $50.

5 frame Q- nuc as per https://www.beesource.com/forums/sh...seph-Clemens-Starter-Finisher&highlight=queen

13 nicot cups and holders on a frame.

Grafted 12 times - often daily. Checked results next day and regrafted cells not taken..

Went from zero success - and not really knowing what doing - to 60% success rate - .
I found sliding the grafting tool with the rear of the tool against the cell wall furthest from the larva meant I would ALWAYS pick up the larva no matter how small.. as the tongue of the sanded down tool will bend easily to fit the cell bottom.
The 3.5X magnification meant working very close to the cell - approx 3.5 inches - but I could see clearly what i was doing (the Optivisor light is easily adjustable in use to focus on exact cell in use..)


With the magnifier head bound, moving to place larva in cup meant you could focus on that very quickly as see what you are doing..

I am now confident I can graft. Next year I will do it again with confidence..

#

Queens raised to date via grafting: 17.. Time to graft 10 cells - under 10 minutes.
 

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Looked at one of my Cloake-Board hives earlier today - 8 nice q/cells due to be capped in one or two day's time. I had another frame of 16 grafts all ready to go, and had planned to install them in 'the other side' (2x nuc boxes over a divided Cloake Board) - but - it's claimed that all the RJ that's needed is given in the first 48hrs,. so I thought I'd test that assertion by inserting more grafts before the first lot are capped.
I used to think that the presence of existing q/cells would inhibit the drawing of new ones ... well, there's only one way to find out. :)
LJ
 

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I used to think that the presence of existing q/cells would inhibit the drawing of new ones.

not true, I have split hives up with swarm cells, adding in frames of bees/brood/stores from poor hives to get as many as I can.
with a fairly ripe Q cell they often start more, from the added brood.

IE use the swarm hive with 6 frames with cells, and the 2 worst hive in the yard to make 6 or 8 6 frame splits.

here is one from last year 6-7 frames with cells.

output.jpg

so the frames added from the cull/resource hives ended up with E cells, I need to monitor this, else I get an E queen from a cull hive superseding the Queen I wanted.

Test away, I believe it very possible.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Received 000 brushes. No instant success. Larvae does not just jump on command, from comb to brush and brush to grafting cup!:scratch: Grafting hook or needle still better for me.

Will give a try to the idea of misting the frame with water. Larvae seems clingy and hard to get separation both when picking up or depositing. Some people have mentioned some days things just dont go well. Wonder if humidity or condition and amount of milk on the larvae could be a variable.

Still incrementally thinning, shortening , narrowing, the bill on the tool. That seems a plus. Also priming the cup with yoghurt helps greatly floating the larvae off the tool.

At least now I know I know I can get workable grafting done for my needs.
 

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Received 000 brushes. No instant success. Larvae does not just jump on command, from comb to brush and brush to grafting cup!:scratch:
Dunno if this'll help any, but first I remove the cell walls of the area I'm interested in, to achieve 'a lower angle of attack'. A couple of square inches is plenty. (In 24 hrs that damage will have been repaired and no longer visible.)

Then - looking down onto the larvae from above, and using compass notation with North directly in front of you - I place the moistened brush just South of the larva. While rotating the bristles anticlockwise (around 1/8th of a turn, as if the brush was a screwdriver), I slide the bristles Northwards under the larva, which then rides up on top of the bristles along with a small dollop of RJ.

Depositing the larva into the cell-cup is then the reverse of this: whilst rotating the bristles the same 1/8th turn, only now clockwise - the brush is moved Southwards, away and from under the larva - which stays behind in the cell-cup along with most of the RJ it was carried on.

It appears to be pretty-much a no-touch technique (which is why I like it) - the larva always staying on a cushion of RJ, and the wrist action is similar to that as when using a manual screwdriver. Thus far I've only tried it with white comb - which I love using - but I think it might be difficult to hoik (*) a larva out from down at the bottom of a narrow black tube - seems to me that the angle of attack then is far too steep.

The BIG game-changer for me was reading a tip to remove the cell walls first - that took me from abject failure to reasonable success. (Photos in a few days.) Of course, doing that may not suit everybody.
LJ

(*) Hoik (verb, UK slang): to lift (usually 'out') without due care or style.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Today was just practice and I felt guilty about really tearing down cell walls. Being able to tilt back is an advantage with the hook tool too. You are right about them healing the damage quickly. I tried cell notching a few years ago and they repaired my notches and built emerg. cells where they wanted them. Independent bugs aren't they?

Having a small spot of juice in the bottom of the cup helps land the larvae. As soon as anything contacts the surface, but before you touch solid you get a visual indication to start pulling the tool back as you lower to touchdown. Lots of little bits of feedback in the operation but they are pretty subtle.
 

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If you put a small amount of foundation in a frame, you can make a frame that is mostly foundationless, but has some foundation for top to bottom strength. I don't know why people would want to scoop under the larvae.
I also employ a modified form of the Miller Method, only using 'white' foundationless comb rather than foundation as Miller did. The big difference between the two methods is one of q/cell uniformity. For all intents and purposes I find it impossible to place roller cages over cut-out q/cells and, as timing is far less precise with natural q/cells when compared with grafting, there is a very real risk of early emergence with consequent disaster without those cages.

For small numbers, the Miller Method is fine, but for larger amounts grafting into Nicot cell-cups (or similar) has distinct advantages - that is, once you've mastered a suitable technique. But both are superior to the use of a Nicot Laying Cage ... 'nuff said about those. :)
LJ
 

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I'll say it again: The key to grafting with the Chinese tool is to graft larvae off of the oldest, darkest, ugliest brood comb. I keep my breeder queens on that kind of comb. No need to sand down tool tips, the old comb does all the work for you.
 

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Plenty of jelly in any drone cell. I would think from a QC is better but I am no chemist.
 

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For all intents and purposes I find it impossible to place roller cages over cut-out q/cells and, as timing is far less precise with natural q/cells when compared with grafting, there is a very real risk of early emergence with consequent disaster without those cages.
There is no reason you couldn't confine the queen to a single comb to provide timing control, and then place a push in cage over the resulting cells.
she starts laying in the middle so you keep the resulting cells off the edges and cageabul.

Been playing with the concept a bit, round of experimentation will be aborted as 40 virgins emerged last night and this weeks sales went flat, I have very few pick ups scheduled for today, going to have to pinch the cells and convert it a bank
 

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There is no reason you couldn't confine the queen to a single comb to provide timing control, and then place a push in cage over the resulting cells.
Sure - but that means finding and isolating the queen - not a big deal in itself, but it's yet one more thing which needs to be done when compared with grafting (open the hive, find the frame, graft and finish - all in one visit). Tried push-in cages - bees just bury underneath them.

she starts laying in the middle so you keep the resulting cells off the edges and cageabul.
I find cells at the edges are more cage-friendly than those in mid-comb. Have you ever actually tried cutting-out cells and caging them ? I've never seen anybody do this successfully (except with home-made cages) - I've spent months trying to crack that one - eventually settled for incubating cut-outs in tiny jars to produce virgins. Best I could come up with.
LJ
 

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> I used to think that the presence of existing q/cells would inhibit the drawing of new ones.

not true, I have split hives up with swarm cells, adding in frames of bees/brood/stores from poor hives to get as many as I can. with a fairly ripe Q cell they often start more, from the added brood.
Well - on the strength of one single observation only ( :) ), there would appear to be at least the hint of a suggestion of some truth to this idea of inhibition - depending on whether or not the existing q/cells have been capped. I note that Sue Cobey in her write-up on the Cloake Board method recommends only adding new grafts to coincide with the capping of the existing batch.

In my own case I had 8 advanced q/cells within a day or two of capping. Then I inserted 16 fresh grafts. 2 of the existing q/cells were promptly torn-down, and 2 new q/cells started. Coincidence ? Maybe - but could also be an indicator that 8 cells are all this colony is capable of feeding adequately - and so they picked the best 8. Maybe ?

I'll try a few more in a day or two, once all existing cells are capped.
LJ
 
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