Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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Dead out – what to do?

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Dead out – what to do?

Hey everyone – second year noob beekeeper here located in Ontario, Canada (about an hour from Toronto). After 3 weeks away from the bee yard, we came back to discover our strongest hive had a dead out. This hive was started from a new queen and 4 frames purchased last spring, made it through the winter, and was previously absolutely bustling – we did two splits from it this spring/summer after some overpopulation and swarm concerns in June and July, and it was very active 3 weeks ago with lots of brood on our last inspection. Treated for mites last fall but not in the spring.

We had 2 brood chambers and 4 supers on it, with 3 supers with 100% fully capped honey and the most recent super about 1/4 capped.

When we arrived yesterday, brood chambers were completely deserted (less than 5-10% dead capped brood, just empty dark combs, no queen/swarm cells or mushy/stinky/rotten slimy comb or dead/starved bees inside), big pile of dead bees outside, probably fewer than 100 bees crawling around in the brood chambers/supers. We couldn’t find the dead queen among the wreckage, but no signs of foul brood as far as we can tell.

We have 4 other hives that seem to be AOK.

Two questions:

A) Pics our bottom board – https://imgur.com/a/SdL6WDf – does this look like mites were the culprit?

B) What should we do with our honey frames from this dead out hive? We could put them on our other hives, but most of those hives have supers that are not significantly capped yet, and we don’t want to either contaminate the other hives, or risk a materially reduced harvest as the bees shift gears away from filling and capping their own supers to working on these new frames (aiming for mid to late September harvest). Our mentor does not recommend harvesting a super frame unless it is 80%+ capped. Freezing some frames from the dead out hive might be an option, but we don’t have enough freezer space to freeze 30 frames from the entire 3 capped supers. Harvesting just the dead out frames next weekend might be a possibility – but wouldn’t be for 10+ days and we are concerned about robbers, wasps and moths in the interim.

Someone had suggested blocking the entrance/exit and putting newspaper between the supers – is this a thing?

Grateful for your suggestions!

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