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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I plan on trying grafting this year. I have all of the necessary equipment, took one of Bjorn's classes last summer, and have read a considerable amount on the subject. But, I would like to be clear on how to recognize the graftable larvae. Does anyone have a picture or can some of you give me some pointers on what to look for. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

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For me, the easiest way to recognize day-old larvae is to look for eggs, then look for cells nearest to the eggs that have a small drop of royal jelly (the least amount). The larvae in the small drops of royal jelly that are nearly impossible to see are the youngest, the larvae that are visible and still smaller than other larvae around them (usually in concentric circles outside where the eggs and just hatched larvae are) are the day-old larvae. Those that are even younger than day-old are the best ones to use for grafting, but they are harder to graft than the day-old, because they are even harder to see.
 

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That's what i was going to say. They are the ones next to the eggs. You could always confine your queen to an empty comb for 24 hours. Then move that comb and replace it. Put it somewhere for 48 hours and you will know that any larvae in that comb are 72 plus hours old.
 

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The youngest larvae in the group of larvae around the eggs will not have formed the "c" shape. They will still have the same shape as the egg from which they have hatched.
 

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The magnifying glass will really help. If they have made the curl "C" they are too old. SQKCRK's idea works really well also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
During the class we used a lighted desk mounted retractable magnifying lens. It helped. But I'm guessing that this takes a considerable amount of practice. We also discussed the same practice that Sqk outlined here. It may be a way to consistently recognize the proper age larvae.
 

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I would be sure to be careful you don't fry those eggs and larvae with that magnifying glass while looking for them outside on a nice sunny day!:eek:
 

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A blue/white LED headlamp can be a grafters best friend. My favorite grafts are when the grafting frame just begins to hatch. They could be all eggs in the morning and by that evening just hours old larvae. I like to graft in the evening if possible... no interruptions then and all the girls are home.
 

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I use a chinese grafting tool to graft. the larva that i graft are smaller then an egg but because i feed the breeder hives pollen cake and syrup, the larva are setting on a good quantity of brood food which makes it easier to scoop the larva. I usually will just scoop from the cell and looking at the tip of the tool kind of angled to the light, I can make out the very tiny ribbed larva. once you get used to it, you'll be able to graft with out seeing the larva and that can save a lot of time. I grafted 700 queens last year of which most larva i did not see and still had 85% of the cells take.

I think rearing queens is probably the funnest job in beekeeping. I'm always thinking about it through the winter and looking forward to it.
 

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chillard willard,

I concur, grafting and raising queens is the most fun I've had with my bees. One good thing about living here in Tucson, Arizona - I am going out tomorrow after the sun comes out and graft a small batch of queen cells.
 

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To you who graft--I bow in your direction! You are more than worthy!

Me, I use the nicot system. At least you can look through the solid end of the cell cup and see the egg or the small larvae about the size of a comma.

Grant
jackson, MO http://www.nicot.homestead.com
I used the Jenter system last year- left the cage in the hive for the bees to rear the larvae I didn't use- well didn't pull it out for awhile- all filled with honey and capped. So I'll buy another kit this year- I'll try the Nicot or another similar system.

I agree- queen rearing is the most fun I've had- I feel like a new Dad every time a queen hatches, mates and is laying eggs! :)
 

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It seems that it shouldn't be that difficult to get the honey-filled one cleaned out, maybe left out for just a few minutes should have it robbed clean of honey, then some paper towels and a blow-dryer will melt any wax that's in any awkward location, while the paper towels will soak it up.
 
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