Re: Restarting Dead Hives
We've had mice in hives, and never cleaned up other than to remove the nests they build. The bees can take care of the rest but they will repair the damaged combs with drone comb if there is not already enough in the hive.
The following advise is assuming the bees did not die of AFB, a serious, but rare disease.
Packges are expensive, I wouldn't buy any. In fact I see no need to spend any money at all, other than maybe some mite treatment and MAYBE feed.
I see you from the other thread you will be raising some queen cells. Go ahead, and once you know how many you will get, make preperations to split enough hives into 4 frame nucs to recieve the cells. You can use your old dead out hives for the nucs just keep the entrances small and don't have any spare combs in there the bees cannot defend.
It is unlikely you will get 100% mating success, so do a few MORE nucs than you need. If mating goes well and you end up with too many nucs, sell them. MAKE some money.
Do a second bunch of cells, timed so that when the queens in your nucs should have mated, if some of them haven't, you have another cell ready to put in, along with a comb of brood to help them out. When the second bunch of queens should have mated, if any haven't, combine the nucs it is now too late in the season to try again.
Where I am a 4 frame nuc can build first season into a 3 or 4 box hive with a good honey crop, but this is not true in all locations, unless they have help. The two areas I'd focus on, and this is where some money may need to be spent, is making sure they are mite free, and feeding if needed. To build up, the bees need to think there is a decent amount of food coming in. Of course if they are gathering their own, don't feed them. If you'd bought packages, you might have had to feed them, so no loss having to feed your nucs. The key is keeping them mite free, and fed.
And if it all goes real well, don't let them swarm, split them at first sign of attempted swarming.
"Thinking Inside The Box"