Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
Have they died over the winter or are you saying they left/swarmed/flew away from your hive? Did they leave any honey? Do bars have comb on them? Yes you can just clean up the bars and box and prepare for new group of bees. Dont use and liquid cleaner other than water . . . scrape off old comb that you do not want to save and the propolis. Yes you an buy bees but you can capture a swarm to place in your box too. Ken
I am at the far south end of Los Ranchos and my largest hive from last year also absconded (as opposed to died). I treated with APivar for Varoa in the fall, but there was plenty of evidence of mites. ALSO, I had hive beetles in the hive when I opened it. I saved the beetles to take to the Extension service... not done that yet... but this is likely the first report of hive beetles in the Al buquerque area.
Thanks for your reply Kate. I had a more experienced beekeeper take a look and she didn't see evidence of mites , beetles, or disease, but we didn't actually test. I had not treated this colony. Sorry about your bees.