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I copycat your method of over-wintering using a deep and a medium box. In the next few weeks, I'll be moving the queen down into the deep box, install a queen excluder, and place the medium on top of the excluder. Supers will go on later. The bottom medium gets filled and is the bees food for the winter.

Question 1 - Have you ever left the medium below the queen excluder for the season? If so, did the bees fill it with honey or use as part of the brood nest?

Question 2 - If you find queen cells in the medium upon your first inspection, do you make splits? Move the medium below the deep? Other?
 

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I can speak for your area. I very rarely use a queen excludeter. If you fine cells I normally pull the queen. And put her in a nuc. If I have multiple cells I try to put some of them in nuc boxes leaving just one or two cell behind.
 

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1. When I run a single and a half brood nest the bees store honey and brood in both boxes. I use this configuration for my resource hives as it gives me two sizes of brood frames to use in my production hives (mediums for baiting a colony slow to move up through a QE) or when making additional colonies.
2. The weather is not yet settled at the first inspection for Qcells here.
 
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