It’s been a very busy year and although we should have attempted this much earlier in the year, we decided that June 1st was the best we could do. We were able to source some great queen cells and queens from other breeders and have made all of our splits so far off those genetics. We have a booming, friendly little hive in our backyard and decided it was time to take a stab at queen rearing from these gorgeous girls.
I waited until time had passed to write this blog post and I guess the best way to describe this experience was a “failure” for all intents and purposes. However, I learned a lot and was able to ask a lot more questions to the real queen rearing professionals in order to do better next time.
A few highlights on my learning journey:
Don’t graft with a flashlight on your head outside with angry bees.
When grafting, if you don’t pick up the larvae cleanly (i.e. without touching the side walls, without turning the larvae over, etc.) – trash it and try again.
Make sure the plastic or wax cells are very clean.
If you prime the cells with royal jelly, make sure you are careful when placing the larvae in – they can drown.
These may seem super obvious and they probably are, but something about “doing” and learning from your mistakes helps the lesson stick so get out there and try for yourself – it’s a fun and interesting process. We used the Cloake Board method for queen rearing and it’s neat to see the bees react to the stimulus of being queenless to get the job done for your new queen cells. Now, next time, we’ll have a more successful graft!