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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.
IIRR you did pill bottles on there side was as well

Tried push-in cages - bees just bury underneath them
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got ya.. the advrage US BYBK (the ones that would befit form graftless the most) are mostly on plastic foundation.



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.
that is to prevent food competition
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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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.
LJ
LJ, I cut the cell out of either wax or foundationless frames and place the qc in a hair roller cage. I use the open end that would normally go on the nicot cup holder and place the roller cage on a board that has holes cut it to accept the bottom of the cage. Only issue I have had is that the fit between the qc and the cage is not tight and I have had the virgin queen get out and be wandering around the incubator. At least she can't get to the other cells.
 

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The tipping point for me was to not try to get the larvae all the way on the grafting tool. If about half of it is sticking off, you do not even have to push the plunger to gently remove it. I do not remember who's video I was watching.
 

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Discussion Starter #44
The tipping point for me was to not try to get the larvae all the way on the grafting tool. If about half of it is sticking off, you do not even have to push the plunger to gently remove it. I do not remember who's video I was watching.
It seems correct to me that the most likely part of the operation to damage the larvae, is getting it off the tool. Sometimes I think the puddle of food is more sticky than at other times. Initially wants to pull off the tool when you attempt to lift it, then wants to stick to the tool when you want to leave it behind in the cell cup.
So far my homemade, very tiny hook works better for me than the chinese gizmo.
 

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LJ, I cut the cell out of either wax or foundationless frames and place the qc in a hair roller cage. I use the open end that would normally go on the nicot cup holder and place the roller cage on a board that has holes cut it to accept the bottom of the cage. Only issue I have had is that the fit between the qc and the cage is not tight and I have had the virgin queen get out and be wandering around the incubator. At least she can't get to the other cells.
Whenever I've cut-out Q/C's, I've always left at least half an inch of comb all around them. With the comb itself being around an inch thick, that's quite a chunk of wax still attached to the Q/Cell. Sure, this excess wax could then be pared down somewhat, but that risks coming into contact with the Q/Cell itself (which I really want to avoid). This wouldn't be a problem of course if attaching the Q/Cell onto a comb, but I gave up trying to poke cut-outs down into standard roller cages. For a while I tried with some oversize cages - which I believe were actually the central component of a pool filter (got a box-full for silly money) where I suspended the Q/Cell inside them using ****tail sticks poked thought the holes - but then the Chinese knock-off Nicot kit started coming onto the market, and so I decided to stay with that.

As msl says, the best solution I devised re: cutting out Q/Cells was to lay them on their sides in small flat jars with vented covers inside the incubator. That worked well, and I'll certainly use that method again if the need ever arises - but - the standard Nicot kit is so much more convenient to use. Except their Laying Cage, which I've more-or-less given up on - although knowing me, I'll still give it a try from time to time. :)

Now I've found that removing cell-walls to fully expose larvae makes grafting with a brush so easy - and immediate (one visit etc) - I can't see me changing from using that method any time soon.
'best
LJ
 

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I have bad eyes. I have somewhat lost count, but I think I am up to 6 surgeries on my right eye and maybe 8 or so on my left. Detached retinas, cataracts . . . you name it. Plus I have needed glasses since elementary school.

I started grafting in 2017 and I have tried many, many things. I have currently settled on this: https://www.amazon.com/Dicfeos-Head...4128807&sprefix=Magnification,aps,196&sr=8-13.

Looks to be about $20.00 now. I think it was $15 when I bought it. It is cheap and cheaply made. But it allows me to work with my glasses on, has an adjustable LED light that you can target into the cells, and comes with a variety of magnification lenses. It works very well and I could not be happier with it.
 

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I have bad eyes. I have somewhat lost count, but I think I am up to 6 surgeries on my right eye and maybe 8 or so on my left. Detached retinas, cataracts . . . you name it. Plus I have needed glasses since elementary school.

I started grafting in 2017 and I have tried many, many things. I have currently settled on this: https://www.amazon.com/Dicfeos-Head...4128807&sprefix=Magnification,aps,196&sr=8-13.

Looks to be about $20.00 now. I think it was $15 when I bought it. It is cheap and cheaply made. But it allows me to work with my glasses on, has an adjustable LED light that you can target into the cells, and comes with a variety of magnification lenses. It works very well and I could not be happier with it.
I've got essentially the same unit, found it in a christmas stocking a couple years ago. Prior to that arriving, my best round was getting 8 out of 15. First time I used it, I got 13 out of 15.
 

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Discussion Starter #50
I have an old omni viewer; no light and trying to perch another LED on top without accurate aiming is troublesome. The description of this unit seems to check all the boxes.
 

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The thing to keep in mind about the one I have, it's cheap, as in inexpensive to purchase, poor quality build, and just all around 'cheap'. BUT, it's a single use thing I have on the shelf, comes out once a week during grafting time of the year, and does the job. I'm sure there are far superior units, saw one at Apimondia that my wife wanted to buy for me, but it was $400.

The other thing I've wondered about, the lens pieces that came with mine are numbered, and I wonder if it's the same numbering used by cheaters at the big box store. Gotta check some time, wondering if a set of the strongest cheaters along with my headlamp would work just as good, or better. I do find the gadget I have a bit awkward when it's on.
 

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Discussion Starter #52
I think it is important that the light can be accurately aimed at the point of interest and that the source point be close to the line of sight. If you tear down cell walls this is not quite so important but a broad diffuse light causes more reflected glare than a well focused narrow beam. Panoramic view is not what a person needs.
 

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Talking about tearing down cell-walls ...

I was curious to find out how many people use a brush rather than a hard tool. Seems some, but not that many. But - while searching, I came across this photograph. The woman who posted it uses plastic foundation (as you can see), but even with those 'proto' walls there's still bags of access.



With natural comb the larvae are even more exposed - you could touch 'em with your fingers if so minded - so it's simplicity itself to lift 'em out, regardless of whatever kind of tool is being used.
LJ
 

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Hope they work for you Frank. You will want to play around with them a little and try out the different lenses and light positions. Hope you find them as helpful as I have.
 

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"first I remove the cell walls of the area"

Have pondered that is extremely useful methodology for grafting and came to the conclusion a miniature sickle would be best. ie. Bend an exacto blade at 90 degrees so it could be swept/sickle through the comb wall detaching it easily. Have yet to try it.

Wondering what method of comb removal you use. Wondering if shoving the blade of the hive tool flush to the plastic foundation face removes just the comb walls, and actually leaving the royal jelly and larva in the foundation "divot"?
 

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Discussion Starter #56
I have watched my son just bulldoze it off with the hive tool; I have picked away at it and seem to have got a lot of little pieces of cocoon drop into the cells. Will have to try it the rough way.
 

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Wondering what method of comb removal you use. Wondering if shoving the blade of the hive tool flush to the plastic foundation face removes just the comb walls, and actually leaving the royal jelly and larva in the foundation "divot"?
Yeah - a good question ...
When I first decided to try this, I went to the trouble of ordering a pack of scalpel blades (I already had the handle) - but these didn't work too well, as the angle of attack was all wrong.

But - the tool I've always used instead of a conventional hive tool is a two-inch paint scraper - so I've been using that by pushing the blade vertically into the comb down to the mid-rib (or as close as I can judge this to be), then while still holding it vertically, drawing it across the comb sideways, as if drawing a curtain. The wax builds up in front of the blade, just as earth does in front of a bulldozer blade, and then comes away as a lump when the blade is removed. Desperately crude, I know - but it works, and works well - leaving behind the exposed larvae in the 'dimples'.

I find in practice there's only need to remove the cell-walls from a few square inches, and the bees repair that by the following morning.
'best
LJ

"Bulldoze" is indeed the word - Frank just beat me to it.
 

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If the comb has never had a cycle of brood raised in it there will be no cocoons in the cells base and any scraping tool will work to remove the cell walls.

If a cycle of brood has been raised in the comb, the cocoons in the base of the cell will tear and dislodge the larvae. It is best to use new comb and place it in a hive for the tear to be repaired, then the remaining larvae should be removed by washing them out with water. The comb can be put away to be used when a new graft is to be done.

Using dedicated comb that can be removed down to the midrib is a great aid in grafting very young larvae.
 

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I've got essentially the same unit, found it in a christmas stocking a couple years ago. Prior to that arriving, my best round was getting 8 out of 15. First time I used it, I got 13 out of 15.
I got this one, essentially the same thing, and used it last time. It helped me see the smallest larvae but it didn't help my acceptance rate, I still got just 7 out of 16. You have to get your head at just the right distance though to get it in focus, I mostly didn't like using it.
 

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92552993_1417397791800751_7615472509005070336_n.jpg
92698723_1417398215134042_5936291354563837952_n.jpg 92948463_1417398715133992_3833821751259693056_n (1).jpg My wonderful, addiction enabling, wife took these.

The glasses were an absolute game-changer, even though they are cheap.
Out of several chinese type tools and others, this one is sharpie marked on the plungers finger end and the go to, the tip has been shaved and readily curves to the cells cocoon bottom.
The right light!
I dry graft and transfer the RJ pool the larvae get a free ride. Slather the chinese tips in royal jelly, when properly lubed things slide better but to much can 'gum the works'

Just like shooting hoops at the line: form and tons of practice!
 
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