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.
Cell Punches & Cell Punching, for raising queens
Cell punches are devices for removing cells from honey comb that contain a larva or egg, for the purpose of raising new queen honey bees.
The brass tube of the Stanley cell punch is placed with it’s sharpened end on the comb face so as to completely encircle the selected cell. The tube is then pushed right through the comb and out of the other side. The perspex collar is placed on to the blunt end of the tube and the punched cell is pushed along the tube until it’s mouth is flush with the rim of the collar (use the 8 mm diameter wooden stick).
Stanley Cell Punch Parts
Cell cutting dowel There is a variation to this method, which I prefer on a personal basis, and that is to push the cell further out so that half of it is exposed, then using the tapered, 10 mm diameter, hardwood dowel shown below the excess cell is cut off by pressing the taper into the end of the cell.
By using a rolling action rather than a twisting motion the cut is made against the edge of the perspex collar, this rolling action also seals the wax to the plastic.
Whichever method is used, the sharpened end of the brass tube is inserted in a carrier of some sort (this may be a special frame or wooden block). ?? ? ??????? Cell Frame for punches
There is no obvious way of protecting the cells, but a simple way is to wrap aluminium foil around the whole assembly.
A simple but effective punch can be made from a disposable plastic syringe.
The front end of the barrel is cut off using, a fine hacksaw, and the edges of the tube are sharpened, to a knife edge, using a fine toothed file.
I have tried 2 ml, 5 ml and 10 ml syringes… All of these work, they just produce different sized plugs of cells.
In use the plug is cut from the front of the comb, without the plunger fitted, the plunger is then inserted and used to push the plug out by air pressure.
Cell Punch made from a 5 ml Syringe
I use a wooden block similar to the plywood block on the Cell Plug Blocks page, that is intended to take the yellow Jenter plug. But I use one with a smaller tapered hole so that when the plug is pressed into it, all of the outer cells are damaged and folded inwards leaving one central one for the bees to produce a queen from.
The syringe punch illustrated produces a plug that is 12.5 mm in diameter which fits into a plywood block as shown left.
Plug of seven cells in block
The tapered hole is bored using a ‘carrot cutter’, the same cutter is then used manually to ream out the wax debris that is left in the recess. ?? ? ?? ?Carrot cutter
In November 2004, Brian Cramp showed me some parts from the system that was the forerunner of the Stanley punch, these items were made during the 1960s by Richard Smailes and are simply made using short portions cut from bamboo garden canes. I show these for interest rather than as a recommended modern method. ?? ?Richard Smailes’ Bamboo Cell Punches
Bar of Bamboo Cell Punches
The drawing below is of a complete frame with two bars, at a scale of 1.5 pixels per mm, using image information from Richard’s bars… If I were building a similar frame for using cell punches of any type, I would group them more centrally, because I have noticed that on bars of queencells (regardless of method of production) it is the end one or two positions that the failures generally occur in. Thus it saves royal jelly and pollen resources by leaving the end positions vacant. If extremely populous colonies are used that have access to large amounts of pollen, then the colony may possibly be able to service a larger number of queencells, but where quality is the aim rather than quantity I would only use 55% to 60% of the cell frame width.
Bamboo Cell Punches on bars in a frame
?Of all these methods I think the syringe is possibly the neatest. The great thing about cell punching is the flexibility of grafting with out the technique.