I started two hives this year. Hive #1 is busting at the seams with bees, honey, pollen. Hive #2 was off to an amazing start in the spring but began to falter in July - I suspect the queen was either failing or died. No signs of the queen, eggs or brood in the last 2 months. I just inspected both hives today and Hive #2 is in dire straits - despite strong honey and pollen stores, the population is dwindling. Hardly any foraging activity to speak of.
Twice I have taken frames of eggs/brood from Hive #1 and put into Hive #2, in the hopes they would raise a new queen from the eggs. However, either the eggs were beyond the correct age or their attempts failed. Either way I am afraid this colony is doomed and I don't want to continue pulling brood from my stronger colony because I don't want to weaken that one too. So how can I ensure the hive is prepared to make it through the winter? Do I combine the hives? Try to purchase a new queen in the hopes she'll get up and running fast? Other suggestions?