Monday, May 29, 2017
Grafting - Attempt #1
Ross Perot once said, "Most people give up just when they are about to achieve success."
Grafting - Attempt #1:
I have watched countless YouTube videos on grafting and queen rearing. My favorite way to do this is by the Cloak-board Method - it seems to be the most bee friendly method. Indian Summer Apiaries made a great video on how to do this.
Step 1: Picket the queen (4) days before you plan to graft so that you know where the eggs and young larva are. I didn't do that but I probably will in the future.
Step 2: (24) hours before you graft, segregate the queen from the rest of the hive. You do this by swapping the bottom box (brood chamber) with the top box (usually a honey super) and placing a cloak-board between the two.
A cloak-board needs to have an exit in it so the bees can still come and go. I used a second bottom board for this. The exit on the cloak-board faces 180degrees from the original hive entrance. This way all the field bees will return to the bottom (Queenless) box and make it feel crowded. This is supposed to put the bees in mind to rear a new queen.
One thing I did wrong was to place all but one frame of brood with the queenless box. This may cause the bees to draw out queen cells that I didn't graft. If so, so be it. This will give me a few extra queen cells. Had I picketed the queen I would have done this correctly but since I couldn't see the eggs I just put all the brood in the queenless box.
Step 3: Graft the youngest larva (those next to the eggs). Then place the grafts into the queenless half of the hive.
This part had me really stressed out and that anxiety caused me to procrastinate. The hive at my house is in a very shaded spot - as is most of my yard. Because of this, it is very hard to see the eggs despite my very good near sight. So I took two frames out of the hive - each had very young larva in it and I wagered that there would be eggs and day old larva very near by.
Once in the shop my wager paid off and I found a quarter frame of eggs and so I grafted the adjacent larva. I feel very confident that my grafts were done correctly. I used a Chinese grafting tool. It didn't go as quickly as it did in the video - the girl in the video made it look easy. Instead, I fond that if I pushed back one of the cell walls, I could get the proper angle to retrieve the larva. I'm sure I'll get better and faster as I go.
My wife assisted me in finding the eggs but actually spent most of her time taking photos and fawning over the (4) or (5) bees that were hatching out of the second frame I took into the shop. While she was absolutely no help whatsoever, she was incredibly cute!
Step 4: (24) hours after you place the grafts, move the brood box with the queen back to the bottom of the hive, place a queen excluder between the two so that she can't destroy the new grafts and the hive is restored back to a queen-right position.
We now have queen cells... I hope. I will complete Step (4) tonight.
The bad news:
On Step (2) I was able to find my new queen (the hybrid from my VSH and survivor stock). She is a laying machine - (10) frames of brood. When I found here, I caged her in a hairclip looking cage I have to keep her safe.
However, when I had finished setting up the hive, I decided to take a few picture (she was so red and beautiful). Well I got my camera phone out and ready to take the picture as I let here out but just as I did, my camera switched views. distracted, I released the spring on the queen cage which pinned the queen around the abdomen. The spring doesn't have much pressure but it may have been enough to damage her. When I released here she ran quickly up my glove and then into the hive... I am guessing she ran into the hive since I couldn't find her on my person.
I am just sick about the thought of killing this amazing egg laying machine. I looked for her yesterday but didn't find her - that doesn't mean she is gone, as I often overlook the queens. I will know by Wednesday, as she has a lot of open frames to lay in and if there are any new eggs, then she is okay.