I have two hives, one two years old from which I harvested 35 lbs of honey earlier this year, and one first year. It's been really hot in NC this summer, so it's been about six weeks since I inspected. I pulled everything apart today in preparation for winter. I have small amounts of brood in a central pattern, and good honey and pollen stores. I can feed right through November. I added a third 8-frame brood box early this summer to the second year hive. On inspection today they appear to have abandoned the BOTTOM brood box -- no honey, no brood and only about 100 bees crawling around. I removed the entire box so that that I will be going into winter with two brood boxes and a honey super. Would there be any benefit to leaving the empty bottom brood box in place? What would you do with the frames which are light yellow to dark brown in color? There is no sign of any moths, beetles or dead larvae. Are they OK to use next spring? Thanks for any suggestions.