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My hives that survived this nasty winter in Iowa are just bursting at the seams with bees. I've put a super on each already just to give some more space. My plan was to split this week. We continue to have cold, wet weather almost every day with temps struggling to get to 60 degrees (high of 49 predicted for today). I really want to do it this week since I will be gone for over a week beginning next Monday. My ideal goals are, in order of priority: 1. do splits, by finding frames with eggs/young larva. Basically walk-away splits. 2. Go through the hives, looking for queen cells. If found, put them in nucs. 3) Locate queens and mark if they are unmarked. I will be happy if I can do just the first. Here is my thought if it does not get warm enough to go through frame by frame. I use 3 mediums for for my brood chambers. I'm thinking of just taking the top brood box off and setting it on a bottom board. When I get back in a week to 10 days after moving the boxes, and assuming it's finally warmed up by then, I'd check to see which had the queen and if queen cells are present in any of the hives and proceed accordingly. I realize I wouldn't be finding any swarm cells that may be present already, but I'm not seeing much in the way of other options. Very open to suggestion. Maybe mid-fifties and damp is ok to pull individual frames for inspection, but I'm not comfortable with that.
 

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On mediums you don't need to find the queen or tear the hives apart especially if you are doing a walk away split. Left up and look a the bottom of boxes. If the hive is as big as you say it is just put a couple more bottom boards down and split them by the box. Doesn't matter were the queen is or ends up.
 

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I would wait until you get back. There will be better weather and more drones for the queens to mate with. I suppose if you DO find queen cells, that could work, but I think it's still too early for that.
 

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Top brood box indicates at least doubles, buy a little more time by putting the super in between the brood boxes. ( that is based upon your "bursting" not being a cold risk)
 

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Wait, I pushed splitting in a yard one time. 55F and drizzle, had at least 4 starts and 2 hives end up with caulk brood. Spent the whole summer getting rid of it, then setting on needles and pins the next spring hoping it wouldn’t come back.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the responses. I do think I'll wait and hope for no swarming. I know we are a week to two behind normal, but I've had swarms by the Kentucky Derby before so I've been getting anxious.
 

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If you’re hives are full of bees then I would split now, I’ve seen a few queen cells in my hives. If the weather is going to get nice before you make it back bees may be gone. If it’s supposed to stay cold and rainy until you come back then you might be okay to wait.
 

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I am planning to split this Saturday. The weather is suppose to clear and turn warmer. I don't see a real good reason to wait. I have drones flying now and many more in the cells (yes 45 days to maturity). The weather is crapy today but in 3 or 4 weeks when she is on her mating flight it will be much better. If you split Saturday May 4th or Sunday she will hatch around the 16th of May. Give her a week running around in the hive and that takes you till the 23rd of May. Another week May 30th she should me laying if not before. By July 15th, still very much in my honey flow they will be filling supers especially starting off with 8 frames of brood back on May 4th. If she don't get mated pop in a laying queen or recombine the hive. Why possibly loose your bees to the trees. Seems that what we worry about. To me hoping a hive don't swarm is bad management.
 
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