Grafting is the process of transferring young larvae from worker cells into special cups used for raising queens. Larvae used for grafting are selected from the offspring of a “breeder” queen, that is, a queen whose genetics appeal to the beekeeper.
Larvae used for grafting must be between 12 and 24 hours old. These larvae are about the size of the egg they hatched from and are extremely delicate. They must be transferred using a special tool aptly called a “grafting tool.” Grafting tools range from simple implements, such as modified toothpicks or artist paint brushes, to specially manufactured tools with retractable springs and mini-scoops.
Grafting requires a lot of practice and a steady hand. Beekeepers often hone their skills on random larvae before their first attempts at queen rearing.