My 2 other hives have me concerned because they have a lot of eggs, sealed & unsealed brood and tons of bees as if it was early Spring. One of the hives even had the queen laying in both deep boxes. I rotated the boxes and made sure they have a lot of stores and will feed them if all these new bees gobble up what id in the hive now.
They are, for whatever reason, already into Spring mode so feeding them at this time of year is going to be essential. You'' also need to feed pollen or a substitue to keep the brood laying going if that is what you want them to do. Once the bees shift into spring buildup they can go through 30 lbs of honey in about 10 days if using 2 brood blxes. So the feeding is a must as they can't attain that amount from open forage this time of year, even in the Carolinas.
My question is I would like to experiment-w-splitting a hive in a few more weeks and hopefully having them raise their own queen and I am wondering what the earliest is that I can attempt this. I was thinking of simply dividing the strongest hive and placing the split right on the the other to help them both stay warm. I also thought about taking a frame of brood from the remaining, untouched hive to help get the population up for the honey flow.
Doing a walk away split is doable under thecircumstances you described of brood chamber at more than one deep. The timing of the split is going to be more dependant on drone population than anything else. I wouldn't do the split until I had a noticable live population of drones. Once the drones are out and about then doing a split and letting each develop it's own queen makes the chances of multiple matings more likely as does having drones of a more mature age than the newly hatched queen.
If you want to reduce the likely hood of swarms later then move the current queen to the split and let the "established" hive develop the queen. This preforms an controlled swarm as it mimics nature in that the old queen leaves the hive.