Finally the warm weather has come, complete with a blooming crab apple tree and seven new nucs. This infusion of fresh bees will allow me to continue with the queen-rear-along project, just two weeks later than expected. I am getting started now, so I can take pictures to send out with the instructions. That way you will have a sense of what you will be doing two weeks from now.
The next step, if you have enough bees, is to start making your "cell builder" colony over the top of your strongest hive. Put the Cloake board over the top brood chamber. (O.k. what I have in the picture is a make-shift Cloake board, a plywood panel that covers the hive with a queen excluder on top. It will work in a pinch.) Then put your queen castle on top. For cell building, we will start by using only one half to begin with. So put in the center divider.
Next, you will fill your queen castle with as many nurse bees as you can possibly spare and fit into one half of the box, plus some extra food supplies. Remember, to get just the nurse bees, shake frames of mostly open brood over the queen castle on a sunny day. The foragers will be flying, and the nurse bees will be on the frames tending to brood. Just make sure you DON'T SHAKE IN THE QUEEN!
Check back six or seven days later to destroy any emergency queen cups or cells that the bees may have started in an effort to requeen themselves. After that, your cell builder will be "hopelessly queenless," and therefore, they will be thrilled to get a frame with fresh eggs and larvae in a few days, and will happily pull some queens from that target genetic stock you will put in. Much of the capped brood will have emerged by this point, leaving empty cells on the three frames in the middle.
Coming up next: Adding a frame of larvae to your cell builder to start rearing some queens.