Burr Comb Mummies

Rearing queens in a well-stocked cell builder is a pretty straightforward operation:  graft, feed, wait.  However, I have found that strange things happen when you attempt to rear queens in a time frame outside of a colony’s normal operating schedule.  For example, on June 25th I grafted 30 larvae (2 bars) into JZ-BZ cells with the intent of producing some queens for artificial insemination.  The cell builder was bursting at the seams with young bees, and the Cloake board had been in place for 24 hours to create a queenless unit in the upper brood chamber.  I placed my grafted frame in the centrally-located prepared slot in the upper and filled the syrup feeder to the brim.  Carefully laying a protein patty on the top bars, I wished the bees well and shut up the hive.  The next day, I checked the graft and the acceptance was good enough for summer queen production, though not as high as I would have liked.  So far, the operation seemed to be running smoothly enough.  But when I checked the graft at Day 11, this is what I found:

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The queens cells had been completely entombed in burr comb like wax mummies!  Fortunately, the escape hatch was not covered over on any of the cells, but I had to carefully and meticulously extricate the queen cells from the mess.  Every one of the burr mummies emerged successfully, but I have to wonder how much deeper they would have been buried in comb had I left the cells in the cell builder another day or two.  Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon during summer queen rearing?

Audrey Sheridan