First of all, here are pictures:
Now someone suggested that mites could have caused the death of the two hives, as I did not treat the hives for mites in the fall (the numbers did not seem troublesome at the time, and my bee mentor never treats his hives...)
1) Here in CT, we're having one of the warmest winters most residents have EVER experienced, so I doubt it's due to cold.
2) Many of the frames were loaded with honey and nectar. There were few cells of pollen, and very few cells of brood. Some emerging brood seemed to have died AS THEY WERE CHEWING THEIR WAY OUT!
3) The bees seem to have died suddenly- all in clusters, many still clinging to the hive frames, some nestled head-first into cells.
4) There seems to be a white powdery coating on some of the frames. Not sure what it is...
5) There seem to be little specks in some cells that resemble tiny flecks of pollen, but not sure that's what it is...
Sooo... what caused this, and what do I do to prevent it from happening again? Also, are the remaining frames safe to use with a new batch of bees?
Thank you all for your thoughts and ideas!!