Hi all, first time poster and first season bee keeper, based in Northern Virginia.
I have two hives that started as package Italian bees. They did well, drawn out the frame and started storing lots of honey. I did one brood box each, then added one shallow honey super each, then the second. They almost filled the second supers by August. I did harvest about one super total of honey, not sure if that was a mistake, and planned to keep the rest for the bees.
Recently however disaster struck one colony. I made another mistake. I ahd some travel and didn't check them for about 4 weeks until early September. During inspection I noticed that one hive was missing about a third to a half of the bees. Then, 3 days later I noticed a lot of dead bees at the entrance. I opened the hive to notice that all the bees were dead, mostly a t the bottom of the hive.
I'm not sure what happened. We didn't have very cold days. On the second inspection it looks like most of the frames have been emptied, even though the honey super was untouched (the queen excluded was not on). Did they starve to death? Or freeze? Not sure that a pest can get them this quickly.
Here are some photos of the I finally got to clean up today. There are sections of comb with bees inside. I assumed it could be that they were trying to hide from the cold.
AAre the frames still usable for next year with a new package? Any tips will help. I don't want to have the bees deal with the same mistakes I made.