I'm hoping you can help me suss out what happened to my bees... On April 27, I purchased 5 packages of bees and installed them in my top bar hives. All of the hives were built of the same wood, same outer paint, no glues or adhesives at all. They were each given 4 bars of empty comb that was left over from a winter dead out hive as well as pollen patties and fondant. The installation went fine. On May 1st I checked on the hives and everything looked good, the queens were out and laying eggs in the comb. I didn't check the hives for the last two weeks because we had a long stretch of cold weather (30s at night, 40s-50s with wind during the day).
Tonight I checked the hives and 3 of the 5 were completely dead. There was still fondant and pollen left in the hives. Of the two hives that survived, one looks really good and healthy, and the other has larvae and capped brood, but a fair amount of dead bees in the bottom of the hive (around 100).
I have no idea what killed off the three hives... starvation? cold? disease? But I'm worried about the remaining hives, not to mention being out nearly $400 worth of bees. I'm also feeling utterly defeated with the winter dead out and then losing three more hives, especially since it is probably too late to get more bees this season. I'm just not sure where to go from here.