On Sunday May 31, Joe Heider and Laurene Kiel grafted from a survivor hive/cut-out (Sept.5, 2014, and wintered on a small cluster) in her apiary. Poor conditions, torrential rains followed by several cold days, complicated both the grafting and the success rate. Laurene used a Cloake Board method, due to limited resources, wherein two frames of brood and 2 frames of honey/pollen were placed on top of the graft donor hive, nurse bees moved up into this super and the Cloake board was closed 24 hours before grafting. Joe provided a starter/finisher from his apiary. A total of 18 were placed into the super with the Cloake board and 45 grafts went into the starter/finisher.
Temperatures dropped that evening with a cold wet rain, so the starter/finisher was insulated with a winter wrap. The other (Cloake) starter/finisher above the donor colony was deemed to be warm enough so no additional insulation was given. Both were given pollen patties and supplemental feed jars.Mid-week (3 days post-graft) cell bars were inspected and showed a 60% acceptance rate (queen cells drawn) with Joe's grafts and only 2 (of 18) with Laurene's.
Laurene has grafted once before and used the Cloake board while Joe has grafted multiple times and his starter/finisher had a larger population. On Sunday June 7 (7 days post graft) because of travel issues, 29 cells were caged and distributed between the two (20 to Joe's, 9 to Cloake). Emergence date was to be Friday, June 12. Saturday inspection of Joe's revealed: 2 dead, 4 did not emerge, and 14 alive/distributed. Sunday inspection of the Cloake method finisher revealed: 1 did not emerge, 3 escaped from cages (who knows who the victor is?), and 5 alive (1 was very small). N.B. 1 cell from Cloake was placed Sunday into hive made queenless.
23/63 total grafts (37% viable queens)
I calculated this number based on distributed queens (14), 3 escapees, 1 ASSUMED success of cell in queenless hive, and 5 caged queens in Cloake finisher
1) Weather/handling at inopportune times may have played a role in success
2) Experience/practice in grafting is important
3) The Cloake board method may be useful with an apiary with limited resources to raise a few queens (queen cell size was double that of those in the other starter/finisher).
4) When caging cells...DUCT tape DOES NOT ALWAYS work. Make sure the cages are escape proof!
NOW all we need is NO rain for the mating flights!