Grafting bees is a fun and economical way to have a sustainable bee yard or backyard beehive system. The material to do it isn't very expensive and can quickly pay for itself, as a quality queen will sell in excess of $40 each.
If your looking to get started you can start with a kit like these:
Grafting Queens for Your own Apiary
So what we're gonna cover today is grafting queens. I'm gonna step you through the process of what we do what I like to do. And let's get started. So, I've headed off to the apiary, we've selected two hives that we really like their genes, they're pretty good at honey production, their tolerance, or their temperament is really calm. And gentle, I guess is the proper word, industry word. But one of them has overwintered successfully, with no treatment whatsoever. So obviously, we like those genes, we want to keep them going. That's an Italian and then we've got a carni that we want to graft off of, as well.
So what you gotta do is, there's kind of some key things that need to take place before you do the grafting. One is you need to start a hive. And you can do that get a starter hive going. I like to go at least a day before you put your queen cups in there. But I've heard some people say you can go as soon as you know, few hours after getting it ready. And pretty much what it is that queenless colony with a bunch of nurse bees. And what that'll do is that'll help grow out the cells on the cups. And they'll nurture them and then we'll end up putting them in a finishing hive. Or what we'll do is manipulate the starter hive and and convert it into a finishing hive. But we'll cover that in a different video.
So what I'm going to do is I'm going to get in, can see them all. But these are our test types. And we're gonna take from that part one over there, and then this tall one here. So stay tuned. And I'll show you how we graphed.
Alright, so just got done pulling the frames out of the hive that I wanted, I've got so this one's out of our carniolan if you can see in there or not. But the age of the larvas is absolutely key. So what you want is them just pass egg stage and just as they're starting to make the little "C" and there's a little bit of royal jelly in there. And so today It's warm. I think it was 82 it's super humid. I'm sweating my butt off right now I just got out my suit. But it's not very windy.
So one of the things you want to take into account is you don't want these to dry out or to chill, that's obviously going to kill the larva. And then you'll have a horrible success rate, if not zero chance of grafting queens, but I've got little bees here. And so what I'm using is I'm actually using this is the German grafting tool. It's got like a little cup on one end. And then like it's really hard stop focusing a little hook on the other. So dogs are chasing a deer or something. But they also make a Chinese tool. I've not used that before. I probably should order one and just try it out but it's got like a nice little plunger on it. So it really helps out when you scoop it up, you can just plunge and just gently push the larva off this one, you just got to kind of get a little technique. I'd like to use this little cup, you scoop it up and they just kind of gently roll it off into your cup.
So these are what we are going to be using. These happen to be JZBZ cups. And then they will end up sitting in the starter frame. Here's the server and we've got these little hooks here. And so once I get this grafted you'll all have three of them in here. And then this goes in the starter colony. So I'm gonna get started. I'm going to start with this is my carni her no I'm sorry, this is the Italian. There's a whole bunch of ..... here so it's really difficult to see but having a steady hand is obviously pretty important. I don't have the steadies of hands, so no making fun of me.
So key is to try to get as much of the royal jelly as you can because I don't help in sliding the. So the trick in grafting these is and I'm by no means an expert. But if you the little larva is shaped kind of like a "C", you don't want one that's big. In fact, they're really I mean about the size of the egg, I mean, I wouldn't say that double the size of the egg, their that small. But with the, the cup. If this was the larva, I like to pick it up from the horseshoe side, and then you leave the legs, just your the ends of the larva hanging off the end of this little cup. And that way, if you get it all the way on here, it's nearly impossible to get it off and that's where the Chinese grafter would probably work a little bit better. But with this, if you got those legs, you can simply when you set in the cup, just touch those two ends of the larva into the bottom of the cup and then it'll kind of stick and you can slide the tool out and it'll deposit the larva within the cup so I'll just do another one here just yet. I don't know if you can see it.
Okay, onto the new one carni as you can see I'm using a flashlight Don't hesitate if you mess a couple up or a ton of them up it's not the end of the world. So anyway, you're gonna get good at it is by practicing so maybe I've already wasted probably 20 of these things just cuz I'm not the slightest the hand and I don't do this all the time. So definitely, don't hesitate. Give it a try. And it helps to get a little, you know, to keep royal jelly on the end of the graph and cookies and the German one because it kind of acts as a little bit of a lubricant for sliding the larva off with the legs or the ends overhanging or your, your tool. So, I encourage just give it a try and if you can make it work, you can if you can't, oh well.
So we got, I've got these graphs and what things are new explained was these cups don't necessarily always fit really nice in this woods. What I do is I like to drip a bunch of wax from the beehive or just some, you know, burr comb that pulled out in the past. But now what we'll do is you just got to gently put everything in, you don't want to shake it, obviously, because those larva will come flying out. You'll put all three of these and then what I'll do is I'll just go throw my starter hive and we'll check back up on them. Maybe tomorrow it's not the next day and just kind of see how what's going along. And I'll make another video on that. So thanks for watching. Don't forget to subscribe.