It crept over 50 degrees today so I decided to do a long overdue sweep out of the screened bottom board to clear the entrance in preparation for spring.
But all my bees appear to be dead.
This is my first winter, and I started with 4 hives, two of whom went into the winter somewhat weak, and two which went in seeming pretty strong.
Weak hives were just barely occupying two deep hives, had some stores but not many, so I made them solid sugar patties which they seem to have eaten about half of. They had a reduced entrance, but an open screened bottom board, slatted racks, and warre style quilt boxes to deal with moisture and ventilation. The stronger colonies were set up the same, albeit with three deep boxes, all fairly full at the start of winter. I did not give them sugar, but left their honey stores for them.
All four colonies appear to be dead. The screened boards were choked with dead molding bees, and while all four hives appeared to have a cluster, all 4 clusters appear to be comprised solely of dead bees, still clinging where they died I assume.
Some of the hives had water sitting on the frame bars, though I thought the combination of ventilation from the SBBs, and the warre quilts should have taken care of moisture.
I'm very discouraged, not only because 4 nucs worth of bees was kind of an expensive start to a hobby, but also because I don't know really what I did wrong, and now they're all dead.
I would love to hear thoughts and ideas on what I did wrong, and what I can do differently.