I don't know where this thread should be, but I love this forum so this is where it's going. I'm certain I have my first dead-out, a nuc from a 10-frame deep with a single shallow above. There was little traffic on super warm days when all hives were jamming (sign #1), and my stethoscope and knock test have yielded a silent hive (sign #2 and #3). My first mentor was wise to tell me to not knock myself for a dead-out (though that's hard to do, I'm finding). He said that was time to re-evaluate, learn and re-apportion assets, all of which are invaluable to the beekeeper. I wasted no time in giving the untouched candy block from the suspected dead-out to a super strong double-stacked 5-frame nuc that had devoured it's candy. My stethoscope and knock test yielded another very weak hive with an untouched candy block (and honey stores just below), so I gave it's candy block to the other double-stacked 5-frame nuc that had devoured it's first candy block. I will clean out the equipment from the dead-out at my first opportunity, namely tomorrow (it'll be cold, but if it's a dead-out who cares?).
All of this makes me believe that winter is the time for re-thinking your methods, learning from your mistakes (such as not combining when I should have, namely the dead-out with the currently weak hive), and planning for the future (which hives to make splits off of ). My one nuc that came from a single frame of survivor bees with an emergency cell from a trap-out is going strong. It hasn't died but has multiplied and is gentle. I'm going to split that when I can to spread those great genetics, and get their sisters and complete the trap-out this spring when I can. At the same time, I'm glad to have had such a cool mentor who educated me in the benefits of failure. Now it's time to pay it forward.