My first graft of 2012 occurred on March 11, 2012. That’s about the same time I started last year. The bees are just a few weeks ahead of where they were at this time last year, but wow, it is so much warmer this year. We have had frequent rains this year, which slows them down just as much, if not more, than cold night time temps.
Last year, all the queens from my first graft froze in their mating nucs, mostly due to user error. This year, I’m going to introduce caged virgins to start and see how that goes instead. If it gets cold (seemingly unlikely, but I’m from here and I know how the temperatures can shift), they will already be emerged and more hearty. Plus, if it works out well, introducing virgins will work out with my ‘working man’ schedule much better than the strict schedule required for introducing queen cells into mating nucs. So that means my next blog post will be about setting up a queen bank for the cells to emerge in and be taken care of for a day or two while I make up splits.
After the picture above was taken at 4.5 days after grafting, I moved the cells into a queen cell incubator in my house. This is a good practice just in case a virgin gets loose in the cell builder. If that happens, the cells could get torn down a day or two before they emerge. When I remove the cells, it is convenient to also prepare the cell builder for my next graft by moving young brood above the excluder/cloak board, and add empty comb below for the queen to lay in, and check for queen cells that need to be removed from other frames in the cell builder. None were present at this date.