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this has been my first attempt at grafting as i said in an earlier post. thought my starter and finisher was plenty strong enough. had 27 of 30 grafts take. reduced to 20 after 48 hours and had a few extras the bees started i had to destroy. the one area i think i screwed up in was i only had capped brood next to the queen cells rather than open brood. i made up my nucs yesterday after work (10) and replaced a couple other queens that weren't living up to my standards. put the queen cells in this morning. the rest of the cells are in the incubator so i can see when they hatch out and potentially replace any that don't hatch in the nucs.

i've seen to get the best queens they should have royal jelly left over once they're capped. the pics i see the jzbz cup is completely full still. my cells have a little left in it but it's mostly gone. more like they ate all but the very top of the cell (as it hangs in the hive). is this okay or did i just make a bunch of inferior queens that will need replaced as soon as possible?

i know it will take time to get all the bugs worked out but i want to get this right. this is my favorite part of beekeeping. even last year just doing walk away splits the excitement the first time you get in and see new eggs is awesome! thanks
 

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also i used jzbz cell protectors that hang between the frames. most of the cells were built out to the point i had to kind of compress the wax as i was pushing into the protector. i don't think it was enough to smash the queen inside but was wondering if this was normal? why don't they make them just a hair bigger?
 

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with respect to seeing royal jelly left at the top of the cup i am usually more comfortable seeing some if not most of it gone by the time of cell placement. completely full sometimes means the larva was not viable and none got used.
 

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also i used jzbz cell protectors that hang between the frames. most of the cells were built out to the point i had to kind of compress the wax as i was pushing into the protector. i don't think it was enough to smash the queen inside but was wondering if this was normal? why don't they make them just a hair bigger?
Were these day 14 cells? If so, they should be fine. My 2 cents, you could (should) skip the cell protectors. If you've got a truly queenless nuc, the chances that they kill the cell are really, really small. I bought a bunch of protectors long ago, but never use them and honestly don't find a need for them. Of course, for those in your incubator, some type of confinement is needed. The hair roller cages work pretty well. Be careful with queens that emerge in an incubator - they won't last very long without attendants. When I need to emerge cells, I find a queenless nuc far superior than an incubator. Incubators are great, but only for incubating, not holding.
 

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I just had a virgin incubator queen emerge two nights ago. I was able to observe her behavior for about two hours. She immediately will feed herself with honey or syrup and maybe take a sip of water. I placed her in a JZBZ style cage and plugged it with some candy dough I made with powdered sugar and Karo. I saw her nibbling on that too. My big take away from last year's fiasco is to remove the queen from the incubator! She will do just fine at (warm) room temp just like a mated queen you buy through the mail.

20190419_183320.jpg

I put her in a queenless nuc last night at around 30 hours post emergence. Do not know how long they can fend for themselves if left alone.
 

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Agreed. It doesn’t always indicate a bad cell but I prefer to have enough extra cells on hand so I don’t need to use anything that looks questionable. Also, if they are at the end of a rack where they may have been chilled I never use anything with residual jelly as they are almost always bad.
 

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are just emerged virgins fed by workers? is having candy available good enough? i vaguely remember reading or hearing that virgins fend for themselves at first.
JWPalmer's observations are the same that I've seen, but my point was for someone new to the whole incubator world, is to be prepared. Don't just assume that the queens will emerge and do just fine without some near-post emergence intervention. Attendants with available food works well. A queenless nuc (setup like a bank) is great. Part of my beef with emerging queens in incubators is that we put a lot of effort into making great quality cells. We tweak every aspect of cell building to approach the quality of swarm cells and then allow them to emerge in a bare incubator- just seems counterproductive to me. I use my incubator for two reasons: 1) to free up my cell builder to increase throughput, and 2) hold cells that are to be sold as cells. When I emerge queens for II the queens emerge in a queen bank (5-frame queenless nuc). Try it, you'll be amazed at how much attention the virgins receive in the bank. Banks can also be used as a "preference" screening stage. Not all virgin queens are treated the same. The bees definitely have preferences. I use this "preference" to decide which virgins get inseminated.
 

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are just emerged virgins fed by workers? is having candy available good enough? i vaguely remember reading or hearing that virgins fend for themselves at first.
Do not know how long they can fend for themselves if left alone
Bigio G, Grüter C, Ratnieks FLW (2012) Comparing Alternative Methods for Holding Virgin Honey Bee Queens for One Week in Mailing Cages before Mating. PLoS ONE 7(11): e50150. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0050150
 

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[...] Part of my beef with emerging queens in incubators is that we put a lot of effort into making great quality cells. We tweak every aspect of cell building to approach the quality of swarm cells and then allow them to emerge in a bare incubator- just seems counterproductive to me.
Then don't - pop a couple of nurse bees into each roller cage - problem solved.

Incubators are great, but only for incubating, not holding.
Agreed.
LJ
 

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Speaking of royal jelly. My larvae are looking on the dry side. I tried grafting and the larvae stick to the tool, not nicely swimming in jelly. Thoughts?
 
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