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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had 3 hives. 1 died in late winter. The comb was empty and I saw no disease. There were some bees. They didn't finish their sugar brick. I split that hive between my remaining 2 hives. I think I gave them too much space. I have 3 hives. 2 are 6 mediums high. The third is a 4 way queen castle.

The 2 big hives:
I thought I gave them too much space. 3 weeks ago, each had 2 empty comb boxes. Their entrances were small (around 2" long). Traffic was low. Their stores were >70% pollen. >1/2 of foragers had pollen. Brood and stores were spread out. Over a week, 1 hive got active. I opened its entrances 7x more. I added screened ventilation on the top and bottom. I opened the screened bottom board to 1.5". They still have a big beard and >30 bees fanning. High temps have been ~75 F. One day I will multiply the ventilation by 5. The next day it cools off, and bearding increases. The other hive has 8x less traffic (about as much as 3 weeks ago), a little top beard, and unchanged ventilation.

The queen castle:
I did made makeshift queens. I thought I opened and took the most from the huge hive. It was hard to find good larvae. Brood was almost all eggs and very old brood. When it was time to put queen cells in the castle, There was <1/2 frame of eggs in the top box. There was plenty of space to lay. Aside from that, there were about 5 frames of solid pollen and 2 of nectar. Below the top excluder, the bottom queen laid >10x more. I saw it. The top queen only recently laid. The 4 queens I put in my castle are in 2 age groups (21 and 19 days from egg lay). I ordered 2 queens for around 7/22 to replace the package genetics. I want to breed from those.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The bearding is low. I checked the big hive yesterday. I checked the middle frame of each box, box bottoms, and all frames up to the stores in brood boxes. I found 1/4 frame of young larvae, a little less than 4 boxes of stores (>1/3 pollen), and old brood (1/2 drone). They had an empty frame in the middle of most boxes and 10 or 20 frames of empty comb or empty frames.

I checkerboarded and added box 7. I found all their queen cells (on comb bottoms) and put the frames in the top box. They were all ages I remember 1 with an egg and 2 capped. I also put 2 frames of eggs and young larvae in the top box. I added 8 empty frames to this hive and 2 to the brood donor.

In 3 or 4 days, I'm going to check my queen castle. 2 of the castle queens should be at day 27. Then I will check the queen cells, leave the biggest 2, and make splits and castles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
The queen cells were gone today. I think there were <8 (<4 capped). They were the biggest (the size of June supersedure cells last year). The hive is low on brood. I was thinking of making another batch of queens for 2 or 3 castles. I would probably get much bigger cells. The possibly queenless hive had eggs and larvae from the 2 donor frames I gave them. I could build a cell starter with them and give them a frame of new comb with eggs/larvae. I wouldn't have to wait for them to feel queenless. They were making queen cells 3 days ago. I have lots of full 95% pollen, 5% drone frames.
 
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