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Thursday, 21 June 2012

The punch method of getting queen cells

Regular reader and commenter Joan asked what I used to punch the grafts.

It's a bit of 12mm steel tube (that's half and inch if you live in a backward country), sharpened with a file.

And a pencil for pushing the graft through.

I will of course, blog on the success (or otherwise) of this first attempt at punch grafting.

I am concerned about two things: the first is the strength of the colony and their nectar flow.  It's a hive that swarmed and the new queen failed to materialise.  You need a strong colony to raise queens.  The second is the age of the larvae.  I'm not sure what a three-day-old larva looks like, so I chose the smallest I could see.

I'll check the "finishing colony" in eight days time and report back.

Hors de combat

Son Joe was taking the photos for the previous blog, but didn't wear gloves.

You can see the result below.  Just one sting.

Usually, rubbing some Piriton cream onto the sting immediately reduces the swelling and pain a lot, but in his case, it didn't help much.

But he suffers in a good cause - the edification of my several readers.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Queen-raising with the punch method

I am attempting to make queens for four queenless hives by using the punch method of removing cells from a prolific donor hive and transplanting them into a queenless hive that will convert them into queen cells.

The photo below shows a super frame with the cells stuck onto the bottom rail using a hot knife and wax.

The next photo shows the donor frame, with holes where the punch has been used to remove the cells.
Now we wait 19 days until the cells are ready for harvesting and use in the queenless hives.  Well, that's the notion.  This is the first time that I have done this, so I am pessimistic.  The cells were hard to handle and I may have damaged them.

If you have used this method, let me know how you got on through the comments button.

Monday, 18 June 2012

End-to-end brood on a plastic frame

A plastic frame in a polystyrene hive?  Pretty unnatural, isn't it?  But if it is so unnatural, how come the bees love it?
Here is a photo of a plastic frame that has been layed end to end with brood.
If you are unfamiliar with hives, you need to know that in normal hives, the brood nest is the shape of a rugby ball (for US readers, that's like an American Football, but not quite so pointy).
The queen does not lay eggs close to the edge of the frame because it is too cold.
But a polyhive is so warm that she will.
The following is a 10 second video that shows both ends of the frame.  Even I did not believe it!
The Langstroth format frame is much larger than the normal British Standard frame - although it is a familiar format in mainland Europe and the USA.

A lot of traditional British beeks will be horrified by the polyhive and/or plastic frame.  But it's the way to go.  The plastic frames are virtually indestructible and just need a steam clean and they are ready to go again.  Just roller on some fresh molten wax and you're good to go.