With my rush to get garden work done I also wanted to get into the hive to check on the ladies and give them some food if need be. When I got inside I found a dead hive. We were mistaken that the hive might be alive, it must have been other nearby bees robbing our dead hive of it's honey that we mistook for life from within our hive.
It was really disappointing to find this. I had hoped that the activity we saw outside the hive was the signs of success, but it wasn't. I tested a few frames by sticking a toothpick into the remnants of the honeycomb cells. Thankfully I did not find goopy, rope like strands when I pulled the toothpicks out, a sure sign of American Foul Brood. Instead it seems that everything left behind is old packed pollen.
Empty hive bodies on the lawn is not a welcome sight to a beekeeper. The honey supers still looked good but all of the brood chambers looked dark and dirty. So I am going to strip out all the comb and foundation, scrap and scrub them clean and then pop in new foundation.
Below you can see a dark spot that does not look like a bee (or the dead wasp you also see that got into our hive) is a small hive beetle. I saw at least five on the screened bottom board. The small hive beetle is one of the newer pests that plague honey bees. They could have definitely contributed to the death of our hive. It might be time to rethink some of our hive management procedures.