I got into my hive today and really looked at it. I pulled every frame. I’m beginning to wonder, now, if my bees actually absconded in October. Here’s why I think that might be a possibility:
1) At most, there were maybe a thousand dead bees in the hive.
2) Of course, I could have missed her, but I didn’t see the queen.
3) Virtually all the honey was left. If the bees had frozen more recently, they would have consumed a lot more honey in the meantime. (And there would have been a lot more dead bees.)
4) The last I looked in the hive was early October. There was lots of brood then, and lots of housekeeping going on with dead bees being pushed out every day. But, not long after that, the removal of dead bees completely stopped.
5) I saw no Varroa mites and no bees with deformed wings. If the hive had been taken down by Varroa mites, wouldn’t I see some dead mites and some deformed wings?