Re: Looking for advice to raise a handful of queens
Pinch queen in hive 3 and reduce it to a nuc so it gets over populated into swarm mode, and give it a feeder. The same day, put frame of worker cell foundation into hive 1, directly into the brood nest where it'll get drawn and queen lay in the virgin wax. The virgin wax frame of eggs is important, as virgin wax is easily manipulated by the bees to make queen cells of quality.
When eggs are just hatching in hive 1, go thru hive 3 and destroy all queen cells, and move the virgin wax frame with hatching eggs from hive 1 into hive 3. The bees in hive 3 (now a cell builder) will be desperately and hopelessly queenless and the nurse bees will be in full royal jelly production mode. They will be crying for viable brood now.
Ten days later, make up nucs from hive 2, and then cut out queen cells from the virgin wax frame in in hive 3 to give the nucs. Also put a feeder on the nucs until the virgins have mated and are laying. Also put a cell in the cell builder so it can have a queen and grow back up into a hive.
This way produces very nice large well fed virgins.
20+ years, raise my own queens, feed when needed. I treat, but have not perfected varroa management yet.