>The small hive DOES have a queen.
I would say so too based on info given ---- but finding a virgin queen (which was mentioned in the post) if indeed that is what it is, could be a bit tough. And I was trying to give an option to keep the virgin queen, if one present and therefore have a queen on hand!
If the queen was failing from the start and never saw queen cells or had a swarm etc. then most probably the old queen is the one with the small pile of bees and indeed pinch her and combine.