We cleaned out the hive today. Optimistically, I prepared my honey gear, thinking I might at least get a bar or two.
The hive was almost fully built out. This was the last comb on the last bar, nearly full size. And empty.
Every comb was empty. Until we got to the pathetic little cluster of dead bees.
There was no honey left. But also no capped brood, and just scattered open brood. Clearly the queen had died at some point. But when?
The combs were well-formed, and hardly attached to the sides at all. There should have been a ton of honey in there. We harvested two bars last May and that was it.
There was a lot of debris and dead bees in the bottom of the hive.
I found one queen cup.
A handful of bees were lodged head-first in the honey cells, a sign of starvation.
I can't figure out how they looked fine all summer, fall and winter (buzzing happily around the entrance on warm days) and then poof. Gone.
Lacking honey, I figured I'd at least render the beeswax.
Many interested bees from other hives in the 'hood kept me company outside. That's a good sign there will be another swarm soon enough for me to catch and try again.