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Discussion Starter #1
OK, I had a big hive that was jamming after the winter, 4 medium brood boxes and both upper and lower entrances looked like fire hoses with bees streaming in and out nearly continuously whenever it was even remotely decent temperature or weather. Inspection showed lots of brood and eggs, plus lots of pollen and nectar also coming in. So, I dug through until I found the queen (of course in the last box 2nd to last frame), and I dropped her and the entire box onto a new bottom on the other side of the yard. Shook in a few more frames of nurse bees for good measure, and put on the lid. After about 6 weeks now, things are looking good in the new hive, lots of activity, so I put on another hive body so there is room for more brood and stores.

The real problem is the OLD hive. There were 3 full boxes of various stages of brood, plus honey and nectar. Looked in today and I possibly saw 1/2 frame of eggs, but they may very well have been from a laying worker, even though there were no doubles that I saw, and they were in worker cells. The entire hive was rather agitated, but no "roaring" that I could tell. So, I suspect that when the hive created a supercedure queen to replace the one I pulled out, either her mating failed, a bird got her, she got lost, etc. The rest of the hive was filled with a ton of various stages of honey, maddeningly with no fully capped frames, and almost all of them 50% uncapped. There were also lots of bees fanning on the landing board.

Here is the question... If you have a big hive, with lots of brood and eggs, might it be better to divide the big hive into 3 or more, instead of just 2, in order to get a better chance to produce a viable queen? If one of the splits fails, they can be recombined. If they are both OK, great, it's a 2-fer. Ideally I usually try for an entire 8 frame medium box for a walkaway, but perhaps 4 good brood frames plus some stores is enough?
 

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I am curious, how many queen cells did you see? I would have expected that once you split off the original queen that you should have seen a pile of queen cells multiple on each frame. Did you ever see that? Or did you just set the process in motion and wait for a queen to be made? I would think if you have nice eggs in the center of the cells you are seeing a queen rather than a laying workers.
 

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You want a large hive to raise the QCs, 4 is plenty to mate a queen, if I get your question correctly.
 

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Here is the question... If you have a big hive, with lots of brood and eggs, might it be better to divide the big hive into 3 or more, instead of just 2, in order to get a better chance to produce a viable queen? If one of the splits fails, they can be recombined. If they are both OK, great, it's a 2-fer. Ideally I usually try for an entire 8 frame medium box for a walkaway, but perhaps 4 good brood frames plus some stores is enough?
What you have done is sub-optimal and risky.
The entire success of the strong unit depended on a single mating success - this is risky and expensive (and you don't have backup matings lined up - the only backup is your old queen).

Of course - the more the better.
I would always break up such strong queen-less unit into 3-4 splits (each one around a QC, ideally).
Chances are good out of these 3-4 only 2-3 will mate OK.
Then later you have options to combine these 2-3 splits into 1-2 units per the queen mating evaluation.

Now, even this is sub-optimal (per my experience, since I was doing the above approach the last 3 years - still did not do great).
Because even the 3-4 splits each done around a QC - too expensive per a queen-less split (basically, you making an over-kill mating split and yet spread your general resources too thinly and forgo the honey crop).

You can mate the ready QCs just by doing 2-frame split-aways - this is plenty to hatch and mate a ripe QC.
No need to be setting up much bigger split for hatching and mating - that is a waste of resources.

This year I will create micro-mating units around each QC and will mate as many queens as possible - cheaply (using a cup of bees on 2-3 mini-frames).
All the while, the strong queen-less unit itself will also try to mate a single queen (may or may not succeed) AND at the same time it will be working for the honey crop because it will keep the workforce.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys, this was essentially what I was asking. Next time I'll try the multiple method, and as long as I get a queen or 2 out of the process, then it will be fine. The strange thing though is that my huge hive didn't have any QCs that I could find, so I wouldn't have been able to split them out at all. Weird that such a busy hive apparently didn't have any urge to swarm, with no QCs and minimal drone cells, but I thought it was a great candidate for splitting anyways. If I don't find any substantial eggs or brood by this weekend, I'll pull a few frames from another hive to drop in there, so they can work on another queen. Thanks :)
 
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