Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
Can anyone help me identify if my hives (both Top Bar) froze or it was varroa kill? I treated with Formic acid in spring and October last year and the queens definitely survived the treatments. I opened my hives on Saturday because I saw ants - there were multiple small clusters of dead bees head first in the comb, but way more dead ones littering the floor of the hives. One hive was a mature feral hive that I was given, the other was a 2019 nuc. I live in the North Valley, so it was definitely cold this winter.
Do you have any photos of what you found when you opened your hives? Were there resources (honey) left? Photos can help determine what happened here.
Unfortunately, no, I didn't take photos. But there was loads of food left - both pollen and honey. And all combs had food, not just the back ones so I really doubt they starved.
It sounds like it wasn't a starvation issue. Even with mite treatment, mites can still make headway during the fall and rise over the winter. It's possible that your colonies froze, but it is also possible that it was a mite issue. Without examining the hive it is impossible to know. I will ask around and see if other beeks in your area had issues with freezing hives and get back to you.