I just finished cleaning out my hive in preparation for the arrival of their replacements and it looks like the queen must have failed. It was her first year, but I think I had a laying worker in there. The main cluster was dead, most of them at the bottom of the hive and a number in the center of the cluster still with their heads stuck in the comb. But their was an erratic pattern of brood, all drones in various stages of development. Maybe ten to fifteen on several different frames. This is only my second year and I am yet to get a hive to survive winter. Does that sound like the queen didn't survive the winter so the bees I was seeing were doomed? It was too cold to open the hive and all seemed fine until there were suddenly no bees.

I looked at the drone larva and the dead bees for signs of varroa but didn't find any. Would you still see evidence of mites after the bees are dead?

Just trying to figure out some reason these guys died so I can hopefully prevent it in the newcomers, but other than that, I have nothing.