As well as checking all my out apiaries today, I did the first grafts since my incubator packed up and killed all my queen cells.
I brought a frame of young brood home, wrapped in a damp tea towel to keep it from drying out, and chose day old larvae to graft into cell cups. I use an artists adjustable easel box to hold the frame while I select the larva to transfer to the cell cup, and wear an LED head torch to make sure I have decent light to enable me to see and select larva of the right age and, of course, my specs as I cannot see close up without them (it’s an age thing).
I place my cell bars into a hive the day before grafting so that the bees can clean the cell cups, and so that the cell bar picks up the hive smell. You can see where the bees have placed a small amount of wax around the tops of the cell cups in the image below.
Once the grafts have been done, it’s outside to the starter colonies. I remove every frame, one at a time, and shake all the bees off to check for queen cells. Any found must be destroyed, or it would have disastrous consequences for the grafted cells.
Once I have checked for queen cells, I rearrange the frames so that there is a pollen frame and a frame of nectar either side of the cell bar, so the bees can feed the grafted cells easily. I will sometimes remove or swap frames with another colony to ensure I have the best chance of my grafts being accepted and turned into queen cells.
Then it is a simple job of placing the cell bar into the centre of the starter colony, and placing the frame I grafted from into another nuc to give them a boost, as there were a lot of emerging bees on the frame.
Even though there is a strong flow on, I use a 1:1 syrup mix to feed the starter colony, as I want to make sure they have plenty of stores to enable them to make nice strong queen cells.
Then it was indoors for a tidy up, and a few well deserved bottles of Cider!