Grafting – FAIL

My latest attempt at grafting failed big time.

I didn’t really have high expectations.  I’m splitting some weak colonies into nucs and giving them better queens.  I would have been happy with 10 queens, but I didn’t even get close to that.  I did 25 grafts…only 2 took so far.

So what went wrong?  It probably wasn’t one thing, but a series of things.

  • I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been.  I really decided at the last minute to do the grafting last week.  I travel quite frequently for work, so it was hard to pick a time when I knew when I was going to be home.  It all came down to when I would have the time to pull the ripe cells and put them in splits, not necessarily picking the best time to do the grafting.
  • Too cool and cloudy on grafting day.  The day started out nice,  but the weather quickly turned.
  • Moving grafted cells from the outyard to home.  It was a 15 minute car ride, and I had them wrapped in a warm, moist towel.  None of those cells took.
  • The cells that did take were grafted on the site of the cell builder.  But, I was interrupted right when I started.  A neighbor was  walking by, saw me and came over and started asking me questions.  He’s one of my consistent customers, so I didn’t want to blow him off.  That left the frame of brood out in the open, probably too long.
  • I didn’t spend enough time getting the cell builder prepped.  I really don’t think that was a major issue, as when I pulled the queen cell frames out to check on them, they were covered with bees.  But, I didn’t spend the time manipulating the colony ahead of time.

So now what’s the plan?  I have been toying with the idea of small scale grafting: putting one or two grafted cells in a queenless nuc.  That way I wouldn’t need to graft and split on different days.

If you are interested in grafting you should try.  It’s not as hard as it sounds.  If you live near Minnesota, or can swing the travel, I would encourage you to take the queen rearing class put on by Marla Spivak and Gary Reuter at the University of Minnesota.  It used to be first come, first serve.  But it’s become so popular you need to apply by answering some qualifying questions.  The best part of the class is not only the queen rearing, but the wealth of other info Marla and Gary can pass along.

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