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I checked my hive today to find no bees (well, three bees). Long story short I didn't realize how much one has to monitor bees for the various disease conditions - I figured that they have lived for millions of years... There was plenty of honey left and no brood/eggs so I assume something happened to the queen. I have a new package on order but don't know whether to re-use the current comb. It looks dark but I am a newbie. The is no bad smell to the comb. Pics:

http://picasaweb.google.com/greg.oleksiak/Beekeeping#5452016945224728530
http://picasaweb.google.com/greg.oleksiak/Beekeeping#5452017102348581426

Is it supposed to be that dark (black)?

Thanks,
Greg
 

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It looks like there is a few capped worker cells in both of your pics. Did you treat for varroa mites last fall? When was the last time you looked in that hive and there was bees in it? With the scattered cells of capped worker cells I would "guess" mites did it in. I would reuse it, the darkness is normal for brood comb.
 

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I last checked it about 3 weeks ago though I did not do a full inspection due to temperature. There were bees there though not tons...I wasn't sure how much a hive should shrink in winter. I did not do any mite prevention - just GuardStar for SHB.

Do I have to treat the frames for mites before my new package arrives? If so, how? How long do mite eggs remain viable?

Thanks
-Greg
 

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If the bees are dead the mites are dead. Check your bottom board closely and see if there are mites there. I won't say for sure mites were your problem but it looks like you have worker brood that didn't hatch so you had a sudden loss of population that can happen from mite overload.
 

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I would send a sample to Beltsville before using that equipment again. Your bees probably died from a varroa infestation, however by sending a sample of comb to be tested you can reused the frames with more confidence.
 
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