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Removing queen cells from combs on plastic foundation is a subject I have seen over the last few seasons on this forum. So I have tried to resolve the issue and have had what I would call success.
I find if the cell is at least two or more days old after being sealed (9 or 10 days from laying ) this method works well. I had a really full hive this summer and decided to remove four frames of brood and bees to a new location and do a walk away split , that is what I did and returned one week latter and you guess it I managed to remove the queen as well so I now had a small split with my very good queen that I wanted to produce additional queen with and a huge hive queenless. Most of the brood in that hive was in new comb and the bees had produced 35 queen cells so I made two additional splits. I just hate destroying good cells and did not want to totally break up the hive so also left a cell for that hive.
I preceded to destroy the remaining cells and decided I could try again at saving those cells by removing them from the frames they were on.
I removed them by using a screw driver and breaking the walls on the adjacent cells ( this destroys the brood in these cell if any are there ) then cut/scrape the cell off of the plastic foundation they now look very crude and often have a small hole at the base of the queen cell. I then use some liquid bees wax and a small brush and coat/seal the base of the cell lightly. To some I used wax to attach to the top bar of an empty frame and to the others I used wax to attach them to plastic queen cell cups as a base then attached to a top bar.
I did this with a total of 13 cells combined. They were then placed in an incubator all but one emerged with only one scrawny one in the group (of course each cell was placed in its own hair roller cage as well) On other occasions I have placed the cell into queenless hives with similar results.
Has any one tried this also?
 

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Yes, I've cut queen cells of plastic foundation successfully just using a hive tool. I've found same as you, sometimes there is small hole at top of cell where it was started next to the mid-rib, but just squeezing it closed with thumb and finger and placing cell into a mating nuc worked fine. I've found that comb that has been used as brood a time or two works better than virgin first use comb, as the pupa casings built up makes the cell come off cleaner with no hole in the back most times. I've never tried it on old black brood comb, so can't say about that.
 

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On the old black brood comb it is harder for the bees to expand the base of the cell to
add more RJ. I think the queen larva will not be well fed.
I have both plastic and foundation less frames to use in the same hive. I used to try to
scrap the qc off the plastic frames but found out that using foundation less frame to make some
queen cells for my split is better for cutting them later on. So on purpose I will direct their energy
into making qcs on the foundation less frames. Less time spend to cut them out this way.
Glad it works out for you, Lonnie. Are you going to use all those virgin queens for your nucs?
 

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I've done what RayMarler is doing with the hive tool. I was advised by somebody to just go very slowly, which helped pick up my success rate of getting them off the plastic in one piece. This was my first year trying it, and I only did about a dozen of them, but it was a cool learning experience...especially when I had extras to practice on. As another method, I was told by somebody that he used something like tin snips to cut through the plastic to get the QC off, which gave him more comb so he could place it comfortably between two frames until the Q emerged. I'm not sure I'm going to attempt that one...seems a little awkward. I do love it when the bees choose foundationless frames to build the queen cells on...so much easier!
 

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I cut 4 out yesterday with an exacto knife. A few I didn`t have a hole, the others I put a piece of wax on it and molded it over the hole. 4 other cells I made little laidlaw push in cages over them. One of the cells I pricked at the top and out crawled a queen,I left her in the hive, so I have to check them today. I`m gonna try the hair roller cage next time,,,,,Pete
 

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If I have only 2 or 3 QC's on a plastic foundation frame, I just give a queenless nuc the frame with all of them on it - no cutting required. Usually the first one out becomes the new queen, but I almost always get a queen in the nuc that way.

If I'm cutting QC's out, I also use an artist's tool - I think it's for clay or maybe for oil painting - it looks like a thin trowel about 5/8" wide and 4" long. It's tapered down to about 3/8 with a rounded tip, and allows controlled flex at the tip. I don't need to sharpen it - it cuts right through honeycomb as it is. When I first saw it, I thought it must have been designed by a bee breeder for cutting & planting nucs. I use a Rapala fish fillet knife if the comb proves to be a bit tough, but I bet an Xacto would do the trick too.


Beepro - Thanks for the tip. I do get a few on foundationless frames, but usually see more drone- and honey-sized cells on those frames.

The random QC's sometimes work out as good as the selectively-bred queens, and often for different reasons. I had a wild swarm this year that turned out to be a bit mean, but they are excellent comb repair experts, the best I've had, so I'm breeding them now, too.
 

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KC, yes if you use the foundation less frames they tend to have the drone cells. However, during the Spring flow and after the drones had hatched that they have enough drones, I put in a new foundation less frame for them to draw the regular worker cells for the
purpose of queen rearing later on.
At work there is a spatula like tool about 1" long and 3/4" wide with thin metal that is flexible yet stiff enough to pry the bezel off.
I think the spatula will work to scoop out the qcs.
 
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