Saturday my dad came over to check on the bees. It had been a few weeks since we'd looked in on them, but I had watched them flying the weekend before. Dad poked his head into the house to tell us he was here and headed down to the hive. After about a half hour (and during halftime in the game we were watching) I went to join him. As I approached I didn't see many bees flying, which was strange given it was 80 and sunny. I said "What's going on?" And Dad said, flatly, "The hive is dead."
It was the weirdest thing. Nearly all the bees were dead in the bottom of the hive - I mean thousands of dead bee. There were half-mature bees in the combs, also dead. The remaining living bees were lethargic. And we couldn't find a queen.
No signs of disease or mites or anything else. Just dead.
Dad called the local bee association and after relaying the story, the man said it sounded like the bees starved. But how could that happen. There is food everywhere - flowers still blooming in the yard. We haven't mowed the dandelions and clover in the pasture for weeks. There's no way the bees could have starved. But what else could it be?!
Nothing to do now. It's too late to start a new hive. I guess we'll clean it out, put it away and wait for next spring to try again.