Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grafting Queens, Revisited.

There are a few important things which I forgot to mention on the previous post about grafting queens. Number one, when removing the larvae from the donor colony with your grafting tool you should always slide the tool in behind the larvae and not the front. Pictured above is a piece of black foundation which the bees have drawn comb and begun to lay brood into. The black foundation helps the beekeeper see his targeted larvae much easier than a new light colored comb as pictured below. The arrows point to where you should slide the grafting tool under the larvae in order to transfer it to the queen cups.

In the above picture I am using the German grafting tool. It is a rigid piece of stainless steel and not the easiest type of tool to use. I am also grafting from a new piece of comb. This is when I first started grafting. The situation could not get much more difficult for a beginner queen grafter. The only advantage I had at this time was that I was Harvesting Royal Jelly to prime my cell cups with and the larvae floated off of the grafting tool easier. I have not been priming any cell cups this year and can tell you that I had a higher rate of acceptance towards the grafted larvae when I primed the cups with royal jelly.

You can see the advantage to using the black foundation versus grafting from new comb. Another important factor which will increase acceptance of the larvae is to make sure that you keep the cell bars covered with a warm moist towel during grafting and when you are transporting the cell bar frame back to the cell builder colony.

Recapping what I have said;
1. Prepare cell builder colony,
2. Place cell bar frame with cell bars a cell cups into the colony so it can be polished,
3. Remove the cell bar frame no sooner than 24 hours later for grafting,
4. Select a frame of dark comb with larvae of appropriate age from the breeder queen's colony,
5. Slide the grafting tool under the larvae from the outside of the curl as denoted in the first picture in this post by the red arrows,
6. Preferably prime your cell cups so the transference of larvae into cell cups is more easily accomplished,
7. Keep the cell bars which have been filled with larvae already covered with a warm moist towel,
8. Keep the cell bar frame covered with a warm moist towel while transporting it to the cell builder colony,
9. Place cell bar frame into the cell builder colony.

After you have the queen cells completed you have a few options for them once they are ripe. The most important thing to remember is to not let a queen hatch out into the cell builder colony while the other cells are still within it. The new virgin queen will destroy all the other queen and I'm sure that you do not that to happen.

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