Before I describe the conditions and head off at the pass those who would say 'so, mites then?'
Anyway, I was out checking the hives today, evaluating who I should breed from this next year according to winter flying ability. It was 45 degrees and the three hives from Zia were flying pretty good as well as some of the others. I noticed the signs of a deadout from one hive, bees coming and going unsure of where the entrance is, bees trying to get out cracks where there aren't entrances, and no guarding to speak of.
I checked into the hive and found a divided cluster, two clusters about the size of a tennis ball, at least two feet apart, both surrounded by honey. There were more beetles in the hive than I have ever seen at one time with six. There were also about two dozen mites on the floor of the hive. There were about a dozen frames of uncapped honey and pollen and some evidence of water leaking through the lid toward the west side of the hive, not near the clusters. This was a pretty mediocre hive that was a swarm that showed up in my shop one day a year and a half ago. More details and pictures on my blog.
I usually have one or two deadouts before Christmas, so I'm not at all surprised.
What do you think?