Hived two packages last spring. One took off the other I had to nurse all summer. Thought I finally got the slow hive going by the end of summer. They stored enough honey for the winter but when I did my final check in October brood count was really, really low. I saw no eggs and figured my queen had shut down. To late to get a new queen so I just wrapped them up and hoped I was wrong. Well when I popped the top yesterday (61 degrees out) it was obvious the hive was dead. Lots of dead bees and I could see the dead cluster.

I went out and picked up the hive and brought it home today. Probably 60lbs of honey in the two deeps so stores were solid but only 20 or so cells of sealed brood with no sign of dead larva in any open cells. Lots of pollen and honey but frames of empty brood cells. I searched the cluster (very small 50-60 bees at the most) and found my queen right in the middle. She obviously was still alive when weather went cold but not enough bees to cluster. I wish I had replaced the queen back in the spring when I began to question the slow hive. I was a newbie (still am) though and second guessed myself.

I now have two brood boxes with 20 frames of drawn out comb about 60lbs of honey spread over the 20 frames. I have a couple ideas and would like your input. There are about 20 to 30 capped brood cells throughout the frames.

I want to start 7 hives in the spring. I am going to split my good hive into two and then get 6 packages.

Idea #1: Spread the drawn comb evenly among the 6 new hives. It would give my girls a jump start with drawn comb and get them going a lot more quickly.

Idea #2: Keep the frames in the two boxes and just give two of my packages a serious jump start. I would have four solid hives and four starters at that rate.

Any other ideas?

Will the new bees clean up the small amount of capped brood cells in the frames once I hive them?

Will the honey in the frames be okay until spring? Most of the honey is capped but there is a good chunk uncapped. Should I freeze the frames till spring?