Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grafting Again

Earlier this week, Greg decided to give grafting another shot (we have had fair success with this for producing extra queens). He started at the Jennifer Berry hive, since they have settled in nicely and currently are the best performing queens we have. He pulled a frame of eggs, or brood, and took it to the bee lair (or the basement, as laymen may call it). He grafted 23 larva into the prepared plastic cups (fake queen cells) and then installed the cups in a queen-less upper hive body that he had made by shaking all of the bees in the front of the hive and installing a queen excluder underneath, so that only the worker bees can go into the second story.

This is a queen cell (looks like a peanut with a hole in the top). Pic is courtesy of this site.

This is a plastic queen cup. Pic is courtesy of this site.

The queen-less hive body contains brood. The idea is to keep the queen in the lower hive body performing as usual, while in the top hive body, the nurse bees will consider themselves queen-less because of the excluder. Then they should proceed to make queens from the grafted larva.

In about 8-10 days, Greg plans to retrieve the queen cells and place them in a mating hive, which is a small hive prepared for this purpose with one frame of bees and food (like a honeymoon suite, if you will). We will see what kind of success we have this time.

We don't need an abundance of queens, yet it would be nice to have a supply ready to replace old or poorly performing queens before the weather starts getting cold. It would be extra nice to have a few extra to share or sell (Probably only to local turned out to be a bad idea).

Greg has begun robbing and is spreading the harvest out over the month of July. The honey, of course, is the best we've ever had. Yet, we have never experienced a year where it WASN'T the best we've ever had. For the record, it is always a true statement.

In other apiary news, we have located two new hives to Crossville, TN. We hope that the higher elevation will yield some sour wood honey, famous in that part of the region. If that is successful, we will begin looking for a location for more elaborate extension to the east.

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