Friday, May 9, 2008

Harvesting Royal Jelly

If you decide to graft your own queens you may decide to use royal jelly to prime your cell cups with. Royal jelly is a substance secreted by special glands in immature worker bees. It changes otherwise ordinary bee larvae into queen bees. Queen bees live 50 times longer than worker bees, exhibit extraordinary fertility, and have great stamina in spite of their stressful lives. Some grafting tools, such as the chinese grafting tool are easy to use as they will push the larva off the tip along with a small amount of royal jelly. If you use a stainless grafting tool which is stiff on the tip you will find it easier to float the larva off of the tip into a small pool of royal jelly. Two days before I decided to put some queen cups with grafted larvae into a cell builder I split a colony in two in order to harvest some royal jelly to prime my cell cups with. After the two days I went into the queenless colony to find the emergency cells being built.

The bees can build the emergency cells anywhere that there is larvae. So the easiest way for me to find all the cells was to create an empty space in the queenless to shake or knock the bees off the frame in.

Once I got all the bees off of the frame I could find every emergency cell on the frames with ease. This frame has six emergency cells that are easily identified when the bees are knocked off.

Once I got the bees off the frame and found the emergency cells I removed the larvae within the cells to keep from pulling them into the syringe.

After the larva is removed you can pull the royal jelly into the syringe and you don't have to worry about clogging the end of the syringe with the larva.

The royal jelly can be stored in your refrigerator until needed, but it must be warmed up before priming cell cups and placing any larvae in it. I timed the harvesting of this royal jelly to coincide with my cell builder being queenless for two days and used it immediately for priming my cell cups.


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