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Grafting tools

This page is credited in full to Dave Cushman who created it. His voice is expressed in black colour text and any additions or comments in blue belong to myself. Credit: Dave Cushman’s website.



Grafting Tools
for Transferring Honey Bee Larvae

Tools for grafting honey bee larvae by transferring them from frames to artificial queen cell cups.

Swiss grafting tool

Swiss Type… This is an expensive precision instrument! It works alright, but it is not as easy to use as some of the others and represents poor value for money. and of course is the one I use..LOL

Magnified Swiss grafting tool

Magnified Swiss Type
A magnifying glass is fitted to the stem of this tool to enable those with less than perfect eyesight to see more easily. I find this rather clumsy and unwieldy. (I use a binocular attachment on my spectacles to provide magnification on those occasions that I need it.)

Chinese Type…

chinese grafting tool

When I first tried these out I did not get on very well with them. I have returned to using them after a gap of about twelve years and I now find them ideal. They are inexpensive, but they are reliable. They are a little difficult to keep clean and I am suspicious that some of my failures may be due this fact. (The one above shows dirt between some of the handgrip wrappings.)

This one is shown about twice life size, it consists of a spring loaded bamboo plunger that slides along a thin tongue of flexible plastic. Modern versions of this tool have injection moulded plastic parts, which may help with cleanliness. To use, the flexible tongue slips easily under a larva and then a press on the plunger will deposit it, and any royal jelly that was picked up, in the cell to be grafted.

Sable Hair Brush
The very small No 00 size artists brush is a nice tool to use for grafting, when moistened the bristles stick together and can be easily slid under a larva.

home made wire grafting tool

Homemade Types
These include wooden match sticks or toothpicks that have been softened by chewing and fashioned with a penknife. I have used a strand from a barbed wire fence that I untwisted and hammered into shape. This was my ‘favourite’ for many years until I lost it. The one illustrated above was made just for the photograph.

goose quill grafting tool

A goose quill (as above) can be shaped with a sharp knife and the air resistance of the feather helps to steady shaky fingers.

I have included the “normal” types and no doubt along soon will come another latest and greatest way of moving larvae from a cell to a cup. The bottom line is practise. the more you do it the easier it gets and the higher the success rate.


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