Our bees are obviously gone.
The two hives have been weak and last week we found there were none left alive.
After checking with our local Beekeepers Association we called out the inspector. North Carolina State University (NCSU) extension office has inspectors that cover specific areas. We called the inspector for our county, Don. Don came to our home to inspect the empty hives.
After looking at the dead bees, head down into cells, he speculated that they had probably starved.
Don then checked for American Foulbrood (AF). He inserted a small stick into a cell, looked at what came out and sniffed it. AF has a foul ordor. We were relieved to learn we did not have AF. If we had, the hives, and frames would have to be burned and buried. This is a very contagious disease and you cannot risk spreading it.
After AF was ruled out Don looked for evidence of varroa mites and found some. It was not possible to determine the extent of varroa mites now that the bees were gone but virtually every hive has them. It is possible that the infestation was extensive and the colony was weakened before winter set in. This contributed to the colony not being able to access the honey and their starvation.
The queen had either died or was not laying eggs so we did not have new bees to replace those who had died.
We are in the process of trying to locate some nucs and will be on the lookout for swarms to replace our lost bees.