soupcan - I see one of my posts is missing. I said in it that one of the brokers for almond growers had said that only one guy (a buddy of mine) came in above estimates and he averaged 14 frames of brood. Lots of guys reporting around 50% losses all over the country, few had strong colonies, many under 8 frames of bees (not brood).
Also, lots of people saying there was not much honey made in 2012. The only guy I heard of making good honey poundage (tonnage actually) is up in North Dakota. I'm sure there are others, but lots of complaints.
I also said that one of the big operators out here suspects that the problem is likely a new pesticide. He is a second-generation beek', and migrates between Southern California and Idaho, where he cooperates with a company from ND. Rumor is that he combined a lot of weak colonies like package bees and re-queened and it seems to be working so far.
Stromness' post #9, Michael Bush's post #31, and benstung's post #34 all suspect pesticides and/or fungicides. The combination of stesses of poisons, mites, viruses, poor nectar/pollen flows, low honey stores, and beekeepers not adjusting to the situation appears deadly.
Interesting how your analysis went at Beltsville...I wonder how that came about. Did they check for pesticides? I wonder how your frozen bees compare to bees preserved in alcohol? That seems like a good idea, I'd have probably sent them both anyways. The significant thing seems to be many dead-outs with no bees in them - which doesn't rule out pesticides. Negative tests don't rule out pesticides nor fungicides - if the bees you sent in were ones that stayed in the hive.
I'll talk to him when he gets back, and try to get back to you. Best of luck in the meantime.