Friends, what is the best approach for a typical backyard beekeeper to inspect a deadout? More specifically, what should be looked at short of sending samples to the lab? I say this because I don't think my bees were fresh enough to send off. I have experienced my first deadouts since I picked back up beekeeping in 2009.
I processed three deadouts at one yard... (more on these in a moment) and I have one more deadout to process at the local park (next to a hive that is still alive) I considered it a really good hive during the season having a very prolific first year queen bred by my mentor. No problems with SHB or varroa and it was the one hive (out of all) whose populations were above average at final season check. So, I'm really trying to be proactive on what happened and share with my club. The hive has a carpet of dead bees out front. Next to this same hive is another hive that is still alive an only a few dead bees in front.
Regarding the three deadouts at my first yeard, at last fall hive check, my populations were very low. I had SHB problems that I felt I got back on top of by the end of the summer (evidenced by few beetles and most in multiple oil traps) but I think the damage may have already been done. I was diligent on my sugar dusting for varroa and use the bellowed applicator. Few mites on my sticky boards.
All hives had plenty of honey in them... around and above the cluster... and a candy board that they never made it to. Adequate ventilation and no sign of condensation. All had screened bottom boards and a hole in the candy board at the top. I found no mites (on or around the dead bees) as I processed three deadouts. These hives could have been dead for 2 weeks or longer before I got to them though.
Not discouraged and ready to do it all over again next season... but I feel having one more deadout to process, I'd like to be armed with the best knowledge from the group. Thanks.