I read that some of you shave down combs inorder to make picking up larvae more easy pick up or see ect.
How is that done and with what? I tried once with a uncapping knife and didn't have much luck cutting through the tuff cocoons left in the cells.
I visited an elderly gent today that was grafting up till this year, we were going through some of his equipment and he had a barber type straight razor in his kit. that is what he used. Wilbanks uses a hot knife.......... Pete.........N3SKI
The comb that I recently shaved down was the stores surrounding the brood. I did this with a sharp serrated kitchen knife. I did not attempt to cut the area where the brood is located because that area is not an issue for me and is not normally drawn way out. Next time i will take a pan to rest the frame on... my wife was not extremely excited about holding a bowl, while I was trying to drip the comb and honey in it.
I use Pierco plastic that is drawn but has never had brood in it. There are no cocoons, so a hive tool will remove the comb down to the plastic and not move the larvae. After I graft all I need from that frame, I wash the larvae out of the cells so the frame can be placed in the cell builder colony to be cleaned and the damaged wax redrawn. When I need more larvae I put the comb back into the breeder queens colony 3 days before I need to graft, the queen lays in it, and the process starts again.
Any sharp, thin-bladed knife works, especially if it is not too wide, is smooth and slick. Single edge razors would rate pretty high, I use a Rapala fish fillet knife (largely because I HAVE it), honed sharper than a surgical instrument. Dipping it into warm water before trimming does not hurt.
Cut right down to just above the royal jelly. Your grafting will speed up quite a lot. Separate your QC bars from the QC frame. Graft one bar, insert it into the frame, drop the frame into the Cell Starter. Graft the next bar, pull the frame back out and add the 2nd bar, float it back into the Cell Starter. Graft the 3rd bar (if using a deep brood box), pull out the QC frame, add the 3rd bar, float it back into the Cell Starter right next to the pollen frame, and close up. A warm, damp cloth can be used to cover the grafts as you go, keeps them from drying out wile you are in the grafting tent or room or your pickup cab, or where ever you do your grafting.
Grafting off of black plastic foundation comb sure makes seeing the 80-hour old eggs-turned-larva (~8 hours as a larva) easier.
Incidentally, sharpening used to be done on an Arkansas stone set - soft, medium, and the hard "Black" stone. That was the standard back when Bill Dance was winning bass tournaments. Nowadays you can finish the edge almost 20x finer using diamond-impregnated steel sharpening "stones". The grits are available down to 1500, maybe finer. It takes time and patience, but super-sharp is the reward.
I do add an empty frame or a top bar for the bees to draw out before setting up the Cell Starter colony. These I place inside a wooden box with queen excluder sides and a lid for the queens to lay eggs in for 3 days, so on the 4th day I don't have to look all over the hive for the right age larva. I call this wooden box the "Queen Jail". It fits into the deep hive box about like a 2-gallon feeder. The frames of freshly-drawn comb (or the top bar combs) are slightly shorter (16 7/8" long instead of 19" long) than standard frames so that they fit into the queen jail. You will find it easier to raise queens off new comb instead of old comb, and ANY knife goes through new comb better than old comb.
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