Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My first queen graft

I took the queen rearing course offered by the OBA Tech Team a couple years ago.  They offer great courses and they're very patient teachers.

If you're in Ontario I highly recommend them.  Course info can be found on the Ontario Bee Association's web site at http://www.ontariobee.com/.

It was a very worthwhile course and gave tons of hands on practise.  But that was two years ago.  I haven't done queen rearing since taking the course so I wasn't feeling very confident.

I have the manual which came with the course and I've started reading it.  But I'm a slow reader and time isn't on my side.

I've got queenless hives - my good, strong hives and I don't want to risk losing them.

The beeyard in question is Pines where I had 5 hives of 10 survive the winter.  I split one hive to make six.

Inspections to date and instinct proved me right that four of the six hives have queens.  Two need some extra help.

Three days ago I took a frame that had a small area with eggs and leaving the bees on the frame I popped it into the queenless hive.  Now they had eggs so they could make a queen cell.  Or move an egg into a cell (not sure if bees do that but I've heard that they do).

When I checked today there were no signs of queen cell development.  When examining the frame I noticed that larvae were newly hatched.  The top super had queen cups with nothing in them.

So I took my Chinese grafting tool (at the end of the course day they had draws and I won this).  There's a tiny pad of plastic at the bottom slides under the larvae and then the other end is the plunger to eject the larvae once placed in the bottom of a queen cup.

I put my magnifying headset on and set to work.  There was plenty of sunlight so I didn't need the headlamp to see.  I managed to pick up 4 and placed them into 4 cups.

I know that larvae can't be flipped over because they only have breathing holes on the up side of their body, so if inserting into a cup you flip them over they would drown in the royal jelly.

It took less than five minutes for the bees to notice the larvae in the cups.

It's very delicate work and I don't know if I did it well, being my first try.  But time will tell.  I'll check back in four or five days to see if the grafting took.
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