Our new grad student, Heather, and I have been trying to raise queens for the past two months, and we have had no end of fits with our cell builders. No matter how strong we make them, how much we feed them, or how earnestly we plead with them, they have only been giving us about a 10-20% take. Frustrating.
So, Jeff finally got down and dirty with the “queenless” cell builder we keep at the entomology building and completely took it apart, dumping all of the bees on the patio in front of the hive and forcing them to re-enter the 2-story cell builder through a medium super equipped with a queen excluder….just in case there was a virgin running around in there.
This is about the messiest way to ensure your cell builder is completely queenless, but we were running short on time to reach our quota of fresh queens. It was a desperate last measure. I grafted another 30 larvae into this “filtered” cell builder today, and I will check tomorrow for success. If nothing else, our fruitless late summer queen-rearing endeavors have given Heather an opportunity to do several grafts and experiment with different grafting tools and media!