what to do with two weak colonies for winter
I keep my 2 colonies in 8 frame mediums. Both currently consist of just 2 mediums. It was a weird summer, with swarms and supercedures, and neither colony really took off in terms of numbers or stores. On inspection today, Colony 1 has 3 frames of brood, 5 of heavy but uncapped stores, and 8 empties. (Those empties are on the outsides of each box, but are the equivalent of a whole box.) Colony 2 has 5 frames of brood, 7 of moderate mostly uncapped stores, and 4 empties. I'm currently feeding 2:1 syrup.
Should I keep feeding them?
Should I combine them?
Should I rearrange colony 1, take out those empties, and take it down to just one box? (Feels a bit strange to go into winter with just a medium).
I'm in the mountains of NC, and expect a first frost in the next week.
Re: what to do with two weak colonies for winter
I would remove the 8 empty combs in the first colony. Rearrange the combs so 3 frames of brood are in center and uncapped stores at the sides. Remove the queen when you find her.
Place that hive on the stand on second hive. Drizzle 2:1 on the bees with your hive tool...enough to get all over the bees but not enough to run out the bottom entrance. Put a piece of newspaper on top of the medium, and the second hive...both mediums just as they are...on top of the paper.
Now you have 3 mediums with one queen, 8 frames of brood and 12 combs somewhat filled with feed. Feed the colony with 2:1 until they are heavy...not sure the weight in NC...a hundred pounds?