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That's it, what your doing is pulling the old cocoons away so they can start the cell. Do any amount on the frames that have larvae, I do up to six notches per frame as it's up to the bees to make the choice (I usually get a couple cells right). I don't even bother notching if it's fresh wax, the cells deform easy.
thanks rwlaw. when you get multiple cells, do you leave them all or cull them down to one or two?
 

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What would you need to purchase for grafting?
Hi Shannon, more or less, you would need the filling items:
1. A cell starter (that's basically two nuc boxes with some minor modifications necessary).
2. A grafting frame- which you're basically using a deep sized frame with some modification to accommodate plastics cups.
3. Plastic cups- which you would typically have to purchase, unless you make your own IF you have the wax and know how to make them.
4. Grafting tools- the Chinese made kind are the least expensive and easiest to use. You can get them on Amazon.
5. Queen cell protectors for when your ready to transfer the developed cells to your finishers nucs.
6. Finisher nucs- can't really call that an added expense as most beeks will already have plenty of those.
7. A huge magnifying glass to find the proper aged larva (optional if you have very good eyesight). I have grafted right out in the apiary, but my hands haven't been as steady as they once were, and my eyes just don't see up close that well any more either.
There are variations to this list, some simpler, some more fancy, depending on one's particulars.

I'm not suggesting it's all that expensive, it really isn't, I'm merely suggesting it's not necessary. Unless you just want to try. Hope that helped or at least answered your question.
 

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Thanks Swiftwisdom. The reason that I put the wood need in italics is that you really don't have to purchase much unless you want to. We were in for less than the cost of a single queen when we made up some this past summer. I had talked to my cousin about raising some queens in the spring after I attended a class, but his enthusiasm seemed to die down a bit after that. Just before the Forth of July he asked about it and I was caught flat footed without purchasing anything. I had planned on purchasing the frame, cups, grafting tools and some other bits, but it was too late for that. Time to get to the table saw.

The only purchased equipment was a queen excluder for the finisher, but we already had that. But there was some construction in the process. Made the grafting frame from some wood scraps, made cups from wax and a wooden dowel, used some paper clips that I hammered different shapes into to make the grafting tool since I wasn't sure of the best shape. For the starter we made a screened box to keep it ventilated. When putting the cells in the nucs my cousin put some aluminum foil around them cells. I used two pair of readers for magnification. The dual readers with a flashlight was probably the worst of the whole thing. My eyes suck too! We grafted on a picnic table and I had to hold the flashlight in one hand and pick the larva out, and next year I will have an optivisor for sure, and probably a frame rest to get the frame at a bit of an angle and more secure. I have since purchased a bunch of Chinese Grafting tools really cheaply to give them a shot this coming year as well. The home made cups were excellent. When I made them up I thought they looked pretty bad, but we put them in the starter the night before grafting and they fixed them all up into perfect queen cups which was really cool.

Grafting wasn't that hard to do, but it seems really tricky when you start reading about it. Lots of little things you have to do to get it right, but I learned a whole lot really quickly (that seems to be how things go in beekeeping!) My guess is that most people on this forum could graft if they gave it a shot. The only problem I see is that most backyard beeks probably don't have the hives to make-up the starter and finishers, and then after that they have to figure out what to do with the queen cells. If you only need a half dozen or so it makes more sense to just purchase them. Unless of course you have a fantastic queen and would like to see how her daughters would work out.
 

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>What would you need to purchase for grafting?

A lot of things would be handy. You don't NEED to purchase anything. You can make a dowel (or find an appropriate 5/16" or so stick) and dip it to make cells. You can carve a toothpick or hammer a copper wire to make a grafting "needle". But it's easier to buy some things if you have the cash to do so. JZBZ cells will save you dipping. A Chinese grafting tool is easier to use (I would buy several as some don't work well... quality control is not good but the design is). Some cell bars can be purchased that are already done.
 

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Squarepeg, what I am doing for most of my increase is splitting as per Mel, and then growing as per Michael Palmer in 2 storey nucs for winter.
What I have observed is sometimes the queen cells growing from the "notched cells" don't look as big as those the bees have started themselves. I leave the 2 biggest looking cells I can find for each split - whether they are from notched cells or not.
I find that for timing it works best about a week before that I think swarming is going to start. I judge that by: Using the "Swarm thread" that runs every year here on Beesource, observing colony congestion, and the weather and local conditions.
PS. I like Mel's book.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHnZAYVACpI
 

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understood adrian, good post. i plan to give the notching a try this spring when i do my cut down splits just prior to swarm season.
 

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I just attended a lecture that Mel did last weekend. One thing I noticed about all of the comments here is that everyone is talking about the effects on honey production. When Mel started the lecture he stated straight out that he sells bees. He actually only talked about honey production briefly stating when you take the old queen and two frames of brood from the parent colony and notch frames the strong queen less colony will pack on the honey while they raise queens because they have a brood break and nothing else to do (until there is a new mated queen).

The message I took away was not "I can get 16:1 splits on my hives", rather it was "hey, I can raise my own queens and have the freedom to split them several ways to get nucs to over winter". Mel uses two frames of brood per split BUT you don't have to do that. You can use three, four, or five. Then you would have much stronger spits that you might not have to feed. I'm sure everyone has their own take on the information.
 

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I use this method to promote my hives. I can get 2:1 easily and at best 4:1. Drone production is my weak link. Winter survival varies. I chose this method because I use small cell comb of 4.9mm. I have noticed smaller queens using OTS as opposed to package bees that I have purchased. One year I split three individual hives into six nucs. All but one queen turned out very yellow, but most worker bees were a healthy black. I thought it odd.
 

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I tried Mels OTS system last year with one hive, it worked really well. From just one round with one (3 box, 10 Frame, medium) hive I created three new colonies all grew into double 10f mediums, requeened the original colony as well as another underperforming queen. All over wintered and are very strong at this point.

Another HUGE BENEFIT to Mels system that often gets missed is that it allows him to be virtually MITE FREE. The timing of his two brood breaks per year completely manage the mites for him.

For me it was freedom. Freedom from buying bees, freedom from panicking about a queen losss, freedom from worrying about winter losses. Creating my own Nucs, complete with robust Queens catapulted the joy I get from beekeeping to a level I could not have imagined.

You can fake it a little with info from his website but I just finished reading the book twice in the last few days, it's worth twice the price I paid for it.
 

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I have 2 hives coming through the winter strong. i hope to keep them that way. I'm glad to see someone else in the PNW has done this successfully. It sounds too good to be true so I'm not getting overly excited, but any issues will likely arise from weather or my own in experience. I don't have grand goals of honey production or selling bees, just to take my apiary from 2 hives to 3 hives with 3 support nucs.

Here's my plan, but I'll be leveraging my local beekeeping club for help in the dates and our typical swarming dates.

If anyone sees any issues or potential problems. Feed free to comment. Lots to learn here.
 

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Yo
I have 2 hives coming through the winter strong. i hope to keep them that way. I'm glad to see someone else in the PNW has done this successfully. It sounds too good to be true so I'm not getting overly excited, but any issues will likely arise from weather or my own in experience. I don't have grand goals of honey production or selling bees, just to take my apiary from 2 hives to 3 hives with 3 support nucs.

Here's my plan, but I'll be leveraging my local beekeeping club for help in the dates and our typical swarming dates.

If anyone sees any issues or potential problems. Feed free to comment. Lots to learn here.
You're on the right track but I'm not so sure I would dispatch the original (overwintered queens) in May. I'd probably wait till July, which gives you post solstice queens that will lay hard deeper into fall. It also gives the hive a 30 day break from raising brood in a dearth, saving 40-60 lbs of stores.

Lastly, this year is on track to be an anomaly for timing, we've got a ways to go yet but we're way ahead of schedule. Heck, I've got drones flying already down here. I'm afraid if we try to wait till one week before "typical" swarm season, it may be too late. Gotta watch the bees closely and use your gut I guess.
 

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For me it was freedom. Freedom from buying bees, freedom from panicking about a queen losss, freedom from worrying about winter losses. Creating my own Nucs, complete with robust Queens catapulted the joy I get from beekeeping to a level I could not have imagined.

.
:thumbsup:
 

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I bought his book also a few weeks ago. I read and reread and and every time I get some tip or advice that I overlooked in earlier reads.
Lots and lots of great info.
I'm gonna quit looking for the queens and just do the Dolittle method with the queen excluder. I have a couple of extremely mean and strong hives(honey producing) so I'm gonna go for as many splits on these and see if I can get up to 16 nucs off each before fall for overwintering and see how they do in 2016 next spring.
Maybe more if I salvage the extra queen cells instead of pinching the more than 2 on each split.
Hackleguy you are right. Total freedom with the bees from here on out.
Gotta keep some detailed records and especially around the summer solstice for my location.
 
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