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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I tried out a 00 sabel brush today on 40 or so grafts. It was was absolutely fantastic at picking up larva, but I had a heck of time trying to roll the larva into the cup. I assume most who use them must prime there cells, unlike with chinese tool. Anyone use them? tips?
 

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I use 000 as i find 00 too big and its possibly why you have trouble rolling the larvae off.

If you can get your hands on a 000 give it a go and see if it makes a difference I think it probably will.
 

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Agreed 00 is too big.

When I was grafting I sometimes used to pick the larvae straight up but depending on the angle sometimes I would slide the brush under the larvae with a slight rolling motion, and then roll it back off in the cup with a rolling motion in the opposite direction.
 

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I use 000 sable and don't prime the cups.
For me, the trick to getting the larva off cleanly is to have plenty of jelly with it and develop a clockwise rotating motion with the brush while pulling it away as the larva is placed in the cup.
 

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I use a 10/0 Spotter brush.
http://www.amazon.com/Spotter-Series-American-Painter-Cornell/dp/B004DJJPHI

Warning though that image is highly magnified and the brush itself is much smaller than indicated.

The problem I find with a brush is that it dos not pick up royal jelly with the larva. It makes picking up the larva very simply but then if the brush is dry the larva sticks to it.

Here are the results I have had with using this brush as of yesterday.
Wood

I will add that the grafts from the upper and lower bar where made from larva in very dry cells. I do not prime my cups but may start in cases like this. Still this frame represents a 71% capped cell rate for 45 cells.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
hi guys thanks for all the replies.

The 000 sable brush was just too expensive at my local store. They had a limited offering in that size and only the most expensive highest quality brand was available. I really like using the 00 sable since picking up was so easy and the larva almost never flipped or rolled. It grabbed some jelly but not all maybe 10-25%. I think priming will be the ticket, the extra liquid should allow the larva to slide right off into the "pool" for a swim. Im about to try again in a few hours and check if yesterdays grafts took. I might trim a few bristles.

Daniel your cells are looking great. ;-)
 

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I use a 10/0 Spotter brush.
http://www.amazon.com/Spotter-Series-American-Painter-Cornell/dp/B004DJJPHI

Warning though that image is highly magnified and the brush itself is much smaller than indicated.

The problem I find with a brush is that it dos not pick up royal jelly with the larva. It makes picking up the larva very simply but then if the brush is dry the larva sticks to it.

Here are the results I have had with using this brush as of yesterday.
View attachment 10056

I will add that the grafts from the upper and lower bar where made from larva in very dry cells. I do not prime my cups but may start in cases like this. Still this frame represents a 71% capped cell rate for 45 cells.
How does one "prime" cells? I presume you put some royal jelly in..if not what? How much do you put in each cell. Where do you get the primer from?
Thanks...we hope to try to raise a Queen this year...the start of our learning curve.
 

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I certainly understand about the expense :( but honestly its worth every penny to have the best brush it makes the job so much easier. The 000 will pick up a good amount of jelly which makes it easy to float off.
If you get a good brush from the start you only have to have one extra queencell take to have more than paid for it. I graft in excess of 10,000 cells a season and my brush will easily last at least 2 seasons.

Not trying to sway you or tell you you are wrong but just saying that most use 000 for a reason and even trying to trim down a 00 brush will probably make it worse. ( been there done that!)
 

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First, do not attempt to trim down a brush. there is more to how they are shaped than just how the hair is trimmed. Don't ask how I know that it was a long time ago. but I now am the proud owner of a very small completely useless paint brush.

As for how to prime a cell. My favorite method woudl be to use royal jelly from a substandard queen cell. usually there is quite a it extra. and just put a touch in the bottom of each cup before grafting. I have heard you can get away with using sugar water or watered down honey as well but I do not want to interfere with the food a queen needs to be a queen. You can also purchase royal jelly for the purpose but for me why bother. I get plenty of rouge queen cells that I do not want to let develop. Just pull out the larva and you have a nice tiny wax container of royal jelly. Best of all the container is disposable.
 

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About priming the cells. Some people swear by it. However I experimented with it by doing it, grafting, then having a look to see how the bees liked it. To my surprise the first thing the bees did was remove all the royal jelly I had primed the cells with. Had to be quick to discover that though because soon after that they were feeding the larvae with their own new royal jelly.
 

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Oldtimer, I am not nearly as concerned with what happens to the prime once it gets to the hive. My concern is what it does during the grafting and the trip back to the hive. mainly it keeps the larva alive and unharmed. It is a temporary remedy to no care being given. I lost 9 of 15 grafts from my most desirable queen. I consider all of them where due to lack of jelly in the cells. Better provisioned cells had 15 out of 15 take.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all the tips. I am in the same boat right now grafting queens are at my house and the builders are at the bee yard 10 miles away. On dry hot days it doesn't take long for the little bit of jelly grafted to dry out. I bet in reno you have very little time due to low humidity. Priming and a moist towel is probably really important for you.

I found cutting the 00 brush to half length and half the bristles was much better. I was able to pick up more jelly and remove larva much better, although picking up the larva was more difficult. My first try was only 10%, my 2nd try with adjusted brush was 70%. I have an idea to improve the bristles, a bamboo china tool sable brush hybrid. Glue just the tip of the bristles together in a fan shape. The flexibility and absorption is maintained while eliminating poking the larva or stray bristles. Gluing it properly is probably very difficult though

Here is a pic of the grafts. This hive is a booming, wintered it as a single, taking of like gangbusters. Copious jelly in the 2 day grafts, no feed, just mother nature.



2nd day grafts
 

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Could well be true Daniel, if they dry or suffer between grafting and start of feeding by the bees larvae can be lost. Which is why I use the cut cell method now. But when I was grafting we had starter hives pumping and ready to go. I would be grafting and another guy was the "gopher", taking the bars as fast as I was grafting them & putting them in starters, seemed to work.
But I guess any method that prevents larvae drying out will be good so if priming works for you...
 

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Burns, You might try looking at shader brushes. IF it is not the shape you are thinking of it might be closer making it easier to get it down to the shape you want.
http://www.michtoy.com/item-MCK-81211-100_Shader_Brush_flat_straight_tip.html

On day two we had 36 of 45 started. that lowest bar never did look all that good. by day 5 it had reduced to what you see in the photo. inspecting the cell builder a few days later we found 14 more cells for a total of 52 cells from this cell builder in all. It is now reset with 10 more frames of open brood.

As for being dry here. yes it is a problem. on some days you can put a drop of water on a plate and watch it dry up. wet towels and speed. I am also looking at simply getting a humidifier that will blow over the frame as I work. My son also has a terrarium humidifier from back when he was trying to keep lizards and tarantulas. So I am thinking about some sort of container where I can hold the frames and keep them warm and humid. I am also not only thinking about a rag for the grafts once they are in a cup which I use. But one that lays over the frame I am grafting from. I have been known to just cut a small chunk of comb right out of the brood frame and just take it in the house to graft from. I have also heard of misting the frame lightly with a spray bottle as you work will help. to cool for larva and dry are our biggest problems right now.
 

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I always use a damp tea towel to cover the grafts as they are done.

I graft 3 bars of 20 before and walk out the back door to the starters that are around 50 metres away.

I would always cover the grafts and never leave them sitting in the open.
 

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This is the kind of brush you want, a 000 taper point.

Taken at a course I ran so not my dirty fingernails BTW.

The bristles of this brush are white and so hard to see against the comb but look carefully you can see a VERY fine pointed tip.

 

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No, sable was not available when I bought this brush but the tip is the right size, shape, and consistency. Main thing wrong is being white, the tiny larvae are hard to see against it.

However with good lighting, a large magnifying glass, and cutting down the cell walls to make it easier, the students were able to graft and successfully master the roll under & roll off technique, the cells they grafted went on to be raised with a good take %. At the end of the course a little fun competition was held with names in a hat, the winner got one of the queens once mated. Everybody took home a grafting brush and a bar of cells so they could get started at home.
 
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