I was hoping someone who keeps Russians can let me know how big the population should be going into winter. I started my hives from package bees in late April and they filled nearly 4 medium supers during the nectar flow. Now they are down to just 1.5-2 medium supers. I've heard Russians keep a smaller winter population than Italians but I'm not sure if this is too small. The hives will be wintering in coastal california where the temperature is usually mild.
Both hives were hit hard by varroa and I've been treating w/ Apiguard. Making this more complicated is that one hive is queenless and there are 3 queen cells, and I think a queen will emerge from one of them in a day or two. I realize it is kind of late in the year for a virgin queen, esp in a hive that seems weak.
Alternatively, instead of combining I could put this colony, new queen and all, in a nuc above the stronger hive for the winter. I'm new to all this so not sure what the better option is.