okay I also had trouble with queens this year, but I have a good queen as of July 4th that has been laying and my numbers look good. I have left the cluster alone. I have one bar drawn out, about 5 brood combs or so then maybe one full comb and the rest (about two or three) empty at this point. Some half drawn out bars in the back.

I am feeding. They are taking syrup and megabee cake. Lots of pollen coming in too from the field.

Has anyone ever put an empty comb in the brood cluster at this point?
Do I put an empty comb in front of the first empty comb that is now in front of the cluster?
I have a book that talks about the pollen comb...is that the empty comb in front of the brood cluster? It sounds like it.

And I may as well (hoping for the best) ask about the Spring. Do I just checkboard the cluster as soon as the weather warms? If I put empty bars or empty drawn in the cluster this will split the cluster and keep them from being able to warm the brood, so I assume it has to be warm enough to even do this.

No real queen cells, just one old one from way back when I lost my first queen in June.

A long post. I'm really interested in the configuration of the bars right now..how much to leave in the front etc.

thanks for any feed back