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We have had an unusually mild winter here in GA and I have a hive that has remained very active. Yesterday with temps in the 70’s I did a full inspection. I am running a deep with two mediums on top. The top medium is full of honey. The next medium down is full of brood - capped and un capped... and some drone cells. Also there was a queen cell with a ready-to-hatch queen inside. (I cut it out.) the deep on the bottom had a couple of empty frames but lots of brood and some honey. The queen was in the bottom deep.
Normally I would split the hive but this early in the season we could still have some extended cold weather.
So here is my compromise:
I put an additional deep directly over the bottom deep. It has ten empty frames. I put a queen excluder on it so the queen will not be going back up into the medium with brood (which is now on top of the newly added deep) laying more eggs there. I hope the additional space provided by the additional deep will reduce the urge to swarm.
In 4-6 weeks I plan to split the hive using the newly added deep as the new brood box for the split. By then they should already be drawing it out.
Does all this make sense to anyone other than me? Or have I just made a terrible mistake?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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The queen cell in the second box was probably a supercedure cell and not a swarm cell. At a minimum, I would have moved that frame to a nuc and put in enough bees to keep it warm. You split the brood and put an empty box and a queen excluder in between, yet you fear for more cold weather. Bad plan. At this point, I would not even be checkerboarding yet. I am going for option #2. As a quick fix, remove the qe and put the empty box under the original deep. Put the brood nest back together and allow all the bees to cluster near the honey supply if or when they need to do so. Nights could still be in the 30s there, right?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Having found some new drone and then the queen cell I assumed they wanted to swarm. The queen cell was on the very bottom of the frame so I rushed to the judgement it was a swarm cell. In retrospect I wish I had done what JWPalmer suggested and just move the frame with the cell and some bees into a nuc and hope for the best possible weather. Not sure what options I have at this point.
 

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Did you find any eggs? If so the bees may make another queen cell.

If not do you have another hive that you can donate a frame with eggs from to this hive so they can make a new queen if they need one?
 
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