Or queen rearer, whatever I be called. I have learned: 1. That the best queens are easiest to raise during the months (here in No. Virginia) mid April, until Mid July 2. From easiest to hard, in this order: 1. Placing capped queen cells into mating nucs 2. making the finisher colony (Doolittle method), 3. making the starter colony 4. Grafting 5. Making the mating nucs, 6. Being patient for nearly a whole month for your mated queen 3. Royal jelly vs. distilled water? Use distilled water...royal jelly is hard to obtain (everytime I have some royal jelly on my hive tool, I never have anything handy at the moment to put it in) as well as hard to keep fresh over several weeks. 4. Expect a 55% acceptance rate in the first 24 hours. If you do better than that you're either lucky or really good. If you do worse, you're either unlucky, it's the wrong season, or maybe you better try your hand at golf, than beekeeping. 5. Mating nucs really don't require that many bees if you graft in July. I've never grafted earleir than June, so cannot say for those months outside of that.