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Lost my Colony - Ideas for Clean up & restart


So we had a 48 F day recently here in Wisconsin and I went to check on my bees. No activity at the entrance and a lot of dead bees on the ground and nearby. I opened the top and saw a fairly large cluster of dead bees at the top front in the corner and another cluster of dead bees on top of a candy patty I had placed there a couple months earlier. Looking down into the two deep boxes all I saw were dead bees on the comb. Clearly I lost my colony and hope to order another Nuc and try again in early May. My question is how to I clean up and prepare? I suspect there is capped honey in the second deep box and drawn comb throughout. We did have a week or two of near or sub zero weather and I did add 1 inch of foam insulation and top ventilation space as well as a small upper entrance.

Do I just pull the frames and brush off the dead bees and wait for spring? Do I do any other preparation? Should I be looking at the remains for mites or something else? This is my first year and while the outcome is not what I had hoped for, I am excited for spring. I have drawn comb, I have flow frames that have been prepared by the bees already. They sealed everything up and I have them stored in plastic bags in my basement. Advice is much appreciated.



Yaaaah ! That’s a die-out describion alright ! Sorry bro. Whether hive ran out of food, mites or combo of the two … It’s the same outcome. Yes ! If weather is good enough I’d go thru frames one by one n bush off the dead. Sweep the bottom board too.

Look for resourse of frames of honey n pollen. Look for shine near clear of mite crystals in the cell. That would be indication of varroa mites helped destroy or weaken the hive below survival number. If you find supply of pollen n honey that can be stored in your freezer n used with your new Spring Nucs.

At least you have a great attitude. Usually there seems to be loss sooner or later. Investing n knowing help not making the same mistake again. Some losses seem to
Just happen. I lost two to mites last Autumn n I have a third that is very small n week last check but alive. May or may not loss them. Just crossing my fingers n keeping the feed with winter patties. Not much else left to do. Like you we both have drawn honeycomb as a useful resource for the new season ahead. I have four new Nucs ordered so waiting for their arrival probably in mud April here.

If I loss my weak one I’ll still have one extra 5 frame Nuc to expand my apiary by one. At least that’s my current plan. I have a beekeeper refresher course scheduled for next weekend too. The instructor is also my mentor.

Couple of pix’s of my busy two hives two days ago on a sunny n 53 dgs day. This morning is partly sunny but cool (low 30’s)…

Well enough said bro. Good luck n happy beekeeping ! Cheers !


Same thing happened to me. I treated with oxalic vape last fall, but too late & mite-borne disease & weakness did them in. I never found the queen among the handful of bees left dead in the hive, so I’m assuming she died along the way & that sealed their fate.

I harvested four frames of capped honey & put the rest back in. I took the opportunity to cut out wonky comb & rubber band the best segments back in, & arrange everything so my next colony has a better structure to start with. My boxes are stacked outside, screened off and covered against invaders & a few chunks of comb with uncapped nectar went into the freezer for spring feeding.


Hmmm, 48 degrees…are you sure they are dead? Bring some in and warm them and see if they come back to life.
I only declare them dead if they are warm and dead.
Last weekend I brought a “cold dead” queen into the house to show my wife. She was alive and well within 10 minutes (the queen) lol. Last year I took apart a “dead” nuc hive in 50 degree weather. As I was setting frames out of the box they were in direct sunlight and the bees started moving. I sealed the hive up and that little hive made it through winter. I donated that hive to my 4-H kids and it is still going strong this winter.


So you just brush off the dead bees, fixed up comb and set it outside. Is that it? Seems easy enough for my next Nuc this spring. Thanks!


ok! Good news… I won’t rush to clean up… I’ll wait until we get some warm weather. Thanks!


Just do like Ed says & make sure openings are covered w screen so moths etc can’t get in.