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Bees suddenly disappear

Clayton, GA

I am a relatively new beekeeper (started one hive in May, last year). The hive seemed to thrive all summer & by all indicators was doing well thru the winter. I did not add any honey supers or attempt to harvest honey in order to make sure there was enough for the bees to winter over. The last inspection I made before winter was early Nov. Everything seemed fine. I did not inspect again until one quite warm day in early Jan. All I did then was carefully lift the top & look in to determine if the colony still seemed healthy. Everything seemed fine except this was the first & only time the bees were agressive. I did not use my smoker & did not completely remove the inner cover, but when I lifted, they attacked. I was stung about 8 times. The weather has been pretty warm for a couple weeks now, so earlier this week I went down to reverse the upper & lower deeps, feed & medicate. To my surprise the bees were gone. There are maybe a 100 worker bees in the hive. There is no queen & no drones that I can see. There is quite a lot of honey in the hive. The upper deep frames are filled with capped honey. In the lower deep there seemed to be quite a lot of uncapped honey. I examined the remaining bees pretty carefully & don't see any sign of varroa or k-wing or anything that seems abnormal. They appear to be healthy, but maybe a little sluggish. There were a few dozen hive beetles present. There is no brood or larva. There is no sign of dead bees. The bottom board was pretty clean & there is nothing around the outside of the hive. I did have to replace the mouse guard over the entrance recently, but there was a definite hum coming from inside so I did not open. I had already ordered a new queen in February, but was told it would not be delivered until May 11. Now I am trying to figure out whether I should still order a new package at this date & if so should I clean out everything or leave the existing honey for the new bees.

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