priming w/ royal jelley

Discussion in 'Raising Queens' started by d.magnitude, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Hi, A question here for those with grafting experience.

    If you use royal jelly to prime cups before grafting, so you just "harvest" it by squeezing out an already started queen cell? How do you store it till needed? The freezer? What if there aren't any queen cells handy when it's approaching graft time (yeah, that would be my "luck").

    For those of you who don't prime when grafting- please convince me I don't need to worry about this.

    -Dan
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    How about harvesting from drone cells in burr comb? Why waste good queen cells?

    Beginners seem to have better luck with priming. Most pros graft dry.
     

  3. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    I've primed with the food at the base of regular worker cells--fine results.
    I've heard of those who prime with a droplet of water.
    The main thing is to float the young larvae on the liquid at the base of the cell.
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    ef writes:
    The main thing is to float the young larvae on the liquid at the base of the cell.

    tecumseh:
    I often encourage folks to prime cells when they first begin rearing queens. It very simply makes getting the little larvae off the grafting tool... after just a bit of experience (and confidence in what you are doing) you will quite likely skip this step.

    i have crafted a tool (looks like a small flat spoon) for removing the royal jelley from queen cells. the easiest means of creating a good supply is to make some well populated hive queenless (with as much young larvae as possible) at least two days ahead of grafting. I hold the jelley in the top of a film canister which if I can store in my frig. sometimes I thin the stuff just a bit with pure water.
     
  5. rast

    rast New Member

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    You can also use honey diluted w/water and plain yogurt. Studies say that most of the time the bees are going to replace what we put in the cups anyway so the point is being able to get the larva off without rolling it or submerging it. *And yes, royal jelly can be frozen, thawed and used.
    *info source- Dave Miksa
     
  6. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    tecumseh:

    i have crafted a tool (looks like a small flat spoon) for removing the royal jelley from queen cells.

    Efmesch:
    For several years my grafting tool was one that I made from a dentist's pick. With a little careful hammering the tip was flattened out while the hooked shape gave me an excellent work angle, It served me beautifully.
     
  7. adamf

    adamf New Member

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    We prime cell cups. We use a very small bead: jelly diluted 50% with distilled water. The harvested jelly (usually taken from swarm cells) keeps in the fridge all season. Before grafting, I'll dilute the jelly with distilled water.

    I know some large operators that prime and some that don't--it depends on one's grafting style.

    Adam
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Early on in grafting the hardest thing is getting the small larvae off the end of the grafting tool. I have never used one, but I suspect those 'chinese grafting pens' would make this part of the task easier.

    early on priming will just give you an improved success rate and thereby also increase your confidence.

    in a fairly recent ABJ article on the Mitska queen rearing operation they stated that they primed cells and this made them larger and thereby more acceptable to folks that purchased queen cells. my experience with priming/not priming would agree with this 'visually enhance' queen cell. experience and reading also suggest a larger cell does not necessarily translate into a better queen.

    most commercial queen rearing/cell raising folks I know all dry graft. after a short while, I suspect, you will be to....
     
  9. adamf

    adamf New Member

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    Funny. David Miksa is one of the larger queen rearers in the USA. He's regarded as one of the world's most knowledgable beekeepers. His operation is pretty serious! He and his family are very nice too, so always a pleasure to visit them.

    If David Miksa primes his cups, he does it for a reason and it works. He makes over 80K cells/year. He knows what he's doing.

    I prime my cups because I get a much better take then when I dry graft.. Since we are selling the result, if the take is better, I keep the process the same. I have good friends who only rear a paltry 30K cells/season and they all dry-graft. I think its how one grafts and how one's mating queen colonies are kept.

    Try both and see. One pointer: when priming, make sure your prime volume is very very small. Ours look like tiny dots. I use a plastic centrifuge syringe to get the tiny prime dot. Also, make sure your priming soluttion is "bee temperature": 92-95 degrees.

    Good Luck!

    Adam
     
  10. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Are we talking about an amount as if I dabbed a toothpick in some royal jelly and touched it to the bottom of the plastic cup?

    I will likely try each method out (provided I collect some RJ before my first grafting day). Related question: Would priming with straight distilled water be of any use? It's something I'm sure to have on hand. I know it has almost zero viscosity, but I feel funny about adding something like yogurt (which is obviously not bee food, and has who knows what pH, etc.).

    -Dan

    ps- I'm very excited about getting into this soon, but very nervous my take will be something like zero. Hats off to you pros, and thanks for the advice along the way.
     
  11. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    I'm a 2nd year beek and in your same climate. When would you consider "swarm time" in these parts. I want to try doing splits before they build swarm cells to make them think they swarmed and then notch some comb that has larvae of the right age.

    I was listening to Mel Disselkoen and was intrigued with some of his ideas.

    Good luck with your grafting. Keep us posted.
     
  12. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Eddy, I'm not really a seasoned beekeeper myself, but I'd expect "swarm season" to potentially start w/ the dandelion bloom (mid-April?). With the weather we've been having though, I wouldn't be surprised if everything is pushed forward a bit. Technically, you could do those splits as soon as you see drones, and feed them well to be safe.

    I will most definitely keep you all posted. Most likely by inundating you with more questions along the way.

    -Dan
     
  13. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    It has always been my understanding that the importance of a droplet (water or RJ) in the base of the cell receiving a graft is so that the young larva doesn't get stressed by drying out until the nurse bees take over caring for it.
    Remember that ALL young larvae are fed royal jelly for the first few days of their development. With that in mind, you can easily "steal" a bit of RJ from the cell of a young developing larva and put it in the queen cup immediately before making the graft, inserting a younger selected larva.
     
  14. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Good tip, Efmesch. Between that (stealing a bit of RJ from "over-age" adjacent larvae), and keeping an eye out for swarm cells I can utilize, I think I'll be able to prime with something my first go-around.

    I also plan on running a humidifier in my room for grafting, to help avoid dry-out. I'll probably be harvesting larvae from a hive in one yard, and taking it to the starter/finisher colony in another yard, stopping at my house to graft between the two. Total driving time= about 1/2 hour, and I plan on storing the original frame w/ young larvae and then the grafted cell bars in a cooler w/ warm damp towel on the road.

    Still wondering- are we talking about a toothpick point of priming material?

    -Dan
     
  15. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Simplest method is just dip your grafting tool in an open nectar cell on the frame you are grafting from. Just what you get on the tool is enough, and will prime both the cell and the tool. Correct temperature, too.
     
  16. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    If you're not talking about large numbers of grafts, you might find it a lot easier to do the grafting in the bee yard. It has many advantages: No travel time, good strong light, options to change your mind about which larvae to harvest.
    Take the frame from which you want to extract the larvae, step aside to a convenient surface (it can be to top of a closed hive), and do your grafting. Return the frame to its original hive and take the grafts to their destination in your "cooler" (warmer?). If it's a good day for grafting, the bees will be more interested in collecting honey than in bothering you. They really don't show any interest in what's going on with the grafts.
     
  17. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    That's good encouragement, Efmesch. I've tried my hand at grafting once or twice at bee meetings, and found it pretty tough. I was hoping that if I did it in the comfort of my own home, I'd have better luck. Maybe when it comes down to it, I will try to do just as you said. If they don't take, I should know in a couple of days, and I can always try again indoors.
     
  18. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    an ef snip...
    Remember that ALL young larvae are fed royal jelly for the first few days of their development.

    and a Dan snip..
    are we talking about a toothpick point of priming material?

    tecumseh: first in regards to ef snip... most queen rearing books suggest you first find well fed larvae(s) floating in a good pool of larval food. by feeding the hive from which you wish to take the grafts just a bit of feed a few days ahead of any grafting activity greatly helps here <the more larvae food in the cell the easier it will be to pick up no matter what kind of grafting tool you are using. and yes the quantity of royal jelly is very very small... on a flat toothpick about the quantity you could scoop up from the larger end.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2012