Bees are gone... How to prep hive for spring?

I checked my strong hive in November and discovered an abandoned hive.

What do I need to do to get the hive ready for a new package in the spring?

Can I just clean up the old frames or should I get new ones?

Any other suggestions to ensure a strong start for the next generation?

It depends on why they absconded. You need to do a bit of an autopsy…

If there’s no sign of transmissible disease and the frames and comb are in good shape and not slimed out or something then you should be good to go with the old frames.

You might consider a nuc or a split from another hive, if that’s available. You could get a mated queen to go with you split to further accelerate the process. Those will give you a stronger start than a package.

Make sure you have a good varroa plan in place if you didn’t already. Unless you specifically can prove otherwise, mites are a good guess for why they absconded/died.

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Hi Fred, after you check through the box as @chau06 said you should store the frames so they can’t be damaged by rodents or other insects before you get your new bees. Assuming it’s cold and dry where you are until then, you can leave the box with frames in it where it is - but block off any entrances including bottom screen if you used one. Eggs potentially left by pests should be killed off in your Colorado temps :+1:

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Thank you for the advice. I did a brief autopsy and found plenty of honey and comb with no obvious signs of pest problems ( though I could have missed obvious signs).

Here are heartbreaking pictures of the dead bees that I found in the hive.

Maybe I missed it but how did you monitor and treat for mites during the summer and fall? Did you find the queen when you did your autopsy?

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I did not have a treatment plan for mites, sadly. I have not inspected the bees yet to see if the queen is there. If she is, what would you conclude? If not?

This article pretty much describes your situation:

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