Queen Rearing and Grafting Practicals,

Videos kindly provided by Lizzie Beard

In an excellent set of practical sessions, Robert and Douglas Pickford demonstrated a popular method of raising queen cells. Worker larvae - the smallest larvae that can be handled easily (approx 24-36 h old) - were transferred using a grafting tool from cells on the comb into artificial queen cell cups on a cell bar.

Queen bees were raised in a colony with two brood chambers. The lower brood chamber containing a strong colony with the queen, queen excluder and two supers, and on top the second brood chamber containing eggs, larvae and the cell cup bars. This system encourages nurse bees, which are isolated from the queen in the lower brood chamber, to raise queen cells in the artificial cups. Ten days after grafting, the cell cups were checked and successful grafts, with sealed queen cells present, were ready to transfer into mini-nucs containing a 'baked bean tin' of bees.

Fourteen days after grafting, each mini-nuc was inspected for evidence for queen emergence. Some colonies contained a virgin queen and were actively building comb. We hope some of these queens will be mated in the following weeks.

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