Today I went to wrap the hive to help protect it from winter. This is my first hive, my first winter with bees. At the beginning of October I had a full hive of Italians, a healthy queen, and a TON of honey. Like Ive been told, I left the honey alone and reduced the entrance since the days were beginning to become chilly.
I go to put the weather wrap around my hive and crack the cover open to have a quick peek inside and dont see a single bee (and I'm always greeted by /someone/ on the inner cover). I go and suit up and decide to crack into the hive to check things out, only to discover that my entire hive is empty. In the middle of the hive, about 40 bees are balled around the queen, all of which appear to have froze to death. I remove the rest of the frames and see only 6 dead bees on the bottom board. The bottom frames have a few sporadic brood, some fully formed C shaped larva, and practically full grown pupa. I grab up the frames that have honey and take them to the house, along with the frame that has the queen and her 40 some workers. I lay the queen frame in the kitchen, snap some pictures and leave it. I was going to collect them later and make a small memorial since this is my first hive.
About an hour later I go to look at them again and notice they are moving slightly, so I put jars over them. I come back a bit later and notice the queen is moving around slightly. I then rush to the internet since I dont know of anyone to call to help, and cant find anything.
So my main question is: Should I put the hive back together and wish the best? What would cause my entire hive to leave before winter? Should I collect the remaining 40 bees and euthanize them in the freezer?