A swarm came to my house last spring. The swarm had scouted out some 20-year old beekeeping equipment I had and settled in before I was ready to host them properly. My only intervention during the past year was to feed and water them, and move them to a sunny location + add the mouse excluder for winter. I also swapped out the very dirty (mouse nest) frames for fresh foundation, which they built out. There were some old frames remaining, but I didn't swap out because there were already eggs in them. I did not treat for mites because I wasn't sure what to do, and I had hoped since they had just swarmed, their mite count would be low. As they were a small cluster, they only utilized the bottom super by last season's end. Honey stores were in the outer frames. I left the the 2nd deep on top anyhow.
Over winter, I opened only 2x to feed. In early winter(~nov), I fed sugar syrup, which they never touched. In late winter (~jan), I gave dry sugar pancakes which was touched, but just barely. When I opened on a warm day yesterday for a better inspection, all the bees were dead in the cluster. There was still some honey in the outer frames. See photos:
I want to start again, so I was hoping for some insight:
1) What went wrong - starvation, mites, or exposure? We had some extremely cold days this winter.
2) Can I re-use all or parts of the hive, or should I build new? What about the frames with the dead bees?
3) How about the frame or so of honey? It's a deep amber color, I think because it was stored in older, darker wax?
Thanks in advance,