It's been a tough year for bees. Colony collapse. None of my three hives made it through the winter. Two of them were abandoned before winter even set in. The third was gone by the time I checked in February.
The hive was three stories. The lower two were mostly cleared of honey, as you'd expect in a colony that is gradually consuming its winter stores. The top story was full of capped honey.
I found the remains of the cluster -- a few dozen dead bees all gathered around the body of the queen. (She's the one in the center marked with a dab of yellow paint.)
I can only guess that as the cluster dwindled, the bees couldn't maintain their heat and so they failed, freezing and starving where they were, just inches away from full combs.
A handful of bees were actually up in the honey comb, but just as dead.
There's a white mildew on them, but I think that came after.
I think this year's project on the beekeeping front will have to be learning how best to treat for mites and the other maladies that can weaken and kill a hive.
The left-over honey I saved to feed to the new colonies that will be arriving in a few weeks.
Hope springs eternal.