Hello and happy new year!
I am a relatively new beekeeper (5 years experience) and last summer I started an observation hive (3 deep frames). In midsummer, the hive went through a catastrophic die off due to inadequate ventilation; the workers had sealed off the mesh screens for venting. I cleaned out the hive, resolved the venting issue, and added a frame of brood and a frame of honey from my other regular hive. I thought it would take too long for the observation hive to produce a queen and build up for winter, so I introduced a new queen and she was accepted and laying well towards the end of summer. Since then the population has dwindled and is now about half of it's summertime heyday. The queen had stopped laying back in December, or maybe earlier, and they are going through their honey stores rapidly. I am supplementing their stored honey with honey I harvested from another hive.
Today, to my dismay, I found that the queen is gone (she was in the hive three days ago), and I wonder if there is anything that can be done. I don't think it's a good idea to remove brood or food stores from my other hive as it will be a challenge for them to make it through the winter as it is. I assumed the queen would have started laying again later in January or maybe in February, so maybe it wouldn't be such a blow to have another queen introduced at this time, though I doubt any are available this time of year. Should I simply combine this hive and it's food stores with my outdoor hive, using the newspaper method, to help insure it's survival and start fresh next spring with the observation hive? Any ideas?
I'm new to the forum and am excited to be a part of the community.