My hive on honey super cell is doing really well. Really, really well. The problem I have is that frankly there's so many bees in the top box it's hard to inspect - there are bees everywhere. Five of the frames (the outside) are completely capped honey, the five inner frames are the top half of the brood nest with nice solid brood patterns. The brood nest extends into the lower box as well, with three solid frames and three more with hatching brood in them. When I took off the top deep (which contains the most bees, the bottom box still had more bees than most of my 3lb packages do.
No queen cells...but...as of this week there are queen cups (without larva) on several frames. I checked every last one and found no larva. They are raising drones between the frames like drones are gold and bringing in pollen and nectar like crazy (found mites on the drone larva, sigh). There are larva of several sizes scattered throughout the brood nest. I honestly have trouble seeing eggs against the white hsc. I'll order black next time.
So, I suspect that given another two weeks for all the capped brood to hatch this hive will be so crowded it will be a sure thing to swarm. I didn't find the queen, to my dismay (I'll probably wind up using the "Separate and listen for the box that fans" trick to narrow down which maelstrom of bees she is most likely swirling in).
So, my question -
How many frames of brood should I wait for until I split? The brood nest is obviously expanding, and though I did not rotate the boxes the queen has shown no aversion to laying, well, everywhere. Projecting population down the line I'd guess that if I give them a few weeks the bees will deal with it on their own.
I don't really have a goal of more bees, I'm pretty happy where I'm at, but I do want to control the impulse to swarm and if I were stuck in a house with that many people and a bunch said "Let's find our own place," I'd certainly agree. If I split the hive 50/50, I would certainly expect the top box to need an additional deep immediately. The bottom box would take a month or so.
I'm open to recommendations on what to do here. Even if I think I'm at a hive limit I'm sure I could sell a healthy hive. Probably wouldn't have ordered as many packages if I'd been sure this hive was going to do so well. (It's a good problem to have.)