Re: queen bee breeding
I have to agree with ralph that this is a bit difficult to work out for a beginning bee keeper. I have not reared queens, and am also trying to figure the "system" out, so I'll give my understanding and hope someone chimes in with better info.
From what I have read, the thing that is really necessary for raising a modest number of queens (say, 5-20+) in a sideliner/hobbyist apiary is a sufficient number of mating nucs. You can use any old hive that you've rendered queenless to rear queen cells (cell starter), either by grafting (which is a bit involved for a beginner) or by something fairly simple, such as the Alley Method (http://www.bushfarms.com/beesalleymethod.htm) or even the Fatbeeman quick-n-dirty version of the Alley method (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y64cKn4rLNM).
The hard part is coming up for a home for the queens to emerge into. You need 1 hive per queen, otherwise its gonna be a WWE Smackdown. You can either buy/build a bunch of mini mating nucs, which have the advantage of not taking a lot of bees away from your honey producing hives, or you can buy/build full size nucs. Full size nucs obviously require several (full size) frames of bees from your hives just to rear one queen. Another alternative is use a regular hive body, but insert wooden partitions every 2 or 3 frames, and construct a cover with an equal number of entrances, making essentially a queen-rearing apartment complex. I suppose you could use your cell starter for this, "converting" it into a mating nuc by inserting the partitions and changing the cover after you've removed the frame of queen cells and placed them into cages (or just pressing them into a frame, again a la fatbeeman), so potentially you could use that method to raise 10 queens in a couple of 10-frame langstroths, as opposed to buying/building 10 mini mating nucs. Thus allowing a fairly small apiary to churn out queens without having a lot of specialized mini mating nucs, grafting tools, etc.
Zone 8a at 4300ft. Langstroth. 4 Hives. AHB region.