I have one weak hive out of three that most likely will not make it through the winter here in northern N.J. This hive was made from a split in may and a Russian queen was introduced. unfortunately they never did well and never even managed to fill out one deep. I have been feeding with sugar syrup and plan on putting them into a nuc and hope for the best. Are there any other options such as removing the frame with the queen and putting her in an observation hive with a shallow full of honey and then possibly combining the remaining bees with the two other hives? Any ideas?
There are a lot of options. IMO if they cannot thrive in good weather they will fail in the winter.
You could put them in a observation hive. But keep in mind an observation hive is MORE stressful, for the most part, than a regular hive, and again, if they are not thriving in a regular hive in good weather, they probably will do worse in the observation hive in the winter.
I'd probably drop the queen in a jar of alcohol (to make swarm lure) and combine them with some other hive.
If they were a nuc that was just not that far along, but doing well enough (building up quickly but not quickly enough) I'd be more tempted toward the observation hive, or trying to overwinter a nuc.
There are a few options.
If they have good numbers, but no stores, you could take some frames of honey from the other hives to get them set for winter.
You could combine the weak hive with one of the other hives.
You could if there is still capped brood, add some from each of the other (2) hives.
In Springfield, I would think that you still have 6 weeks or more before your first frost. So they still have a chance to put up fall honey.