This is my second year keeping bees. I bought 2 hives last year and both made it ok through winter, but had to be fed for lack of honey because of a late summer drought in TN. Both overwintered in Langstroth deeps. I also ordered a new package this spring and put them in a new top bar hive. They are doing well after about 3 weeks.
One of my 2nd year hives is not doing well. It has about 6-7 frames of bees, in one deep, but hasn't expanded much from winter. I found the queen a few days ago and she looks fine, there is brood, eggs etc. But I cant help but compare it to the other 2nd year hive right beside it. It is booming and after I moved the bottom deep on top, the queen has it almost full of brood and eggs in one week. So now that hive has 2 deeps full of brood, eggs and bees ! It is a booming hive.
Considering that theres no way this weak hive will probably make it through next winter, before it gets too much later in the spring, should I combine the bees with one of my other hives, or just requeen this hive ? My thoughts are, the hive beside it doesnt need anymore bees, and the other hive I have is a new package in a top bar. Im not sure if its even possible to combine bees in a top bar hive.
I bought the Nicot Queen rearing kit but after 3 inspections I still cant find the queen in the booming hive. I was planning on trying to raise a few queens for fun and experience, but just cant seem to locate her. The genes in that hive should be very good, considering they have built up fast 2 springs in a row, never been treated with any chemicals and have been so gentle, rarely getting upset during inspection.
Any thoughts on what the best solution would be ?