On Saturday, April 6, 2019, I went to my hives to clean them out. This is the horizontal hive after I removed the frames. If you look closely, in the center of the bottom is a dead mouse, just sitting there, not curled up. It had damaged a couple of frames, but was well back from where the bees were, so did no damage to them. Up front you see a lot of dead bees on the floor. I found the dead queen among them. Here she is, I laid her on a piece of comb to take the picture.
There was a small cluster of dead bees, which was the case in all three hives. This hive had the least honey, but there was honey on the hive. The dead cluster was up front in this hive. In one of the other hives, which were both vertical, I found this:
That is a giant chunk of propolis, which was near the entrance of the hive. I believe it was an attempt to close the entrance down further than it was. The horizontal hive also had a similar piece of propolis, but not nearly as large.
So, the big question is what happened? All three hives had enough food. The smallest hive had a completely full feeder of sugar water on it. All three had small dead clusters and lots of dead bees on the bottom board. My theory is that it just got too cold. The cluster couldn't move to where the stores were, the outside bees died and fell to the floor, the small cluster starved in place. I believe the poor mouse froze to death. It probably was in the hive when I moved it. I probably closed it in when I put the mouse guard on. It was alone, and not very large. I cleaned up the horizontal hive and will repopulate it with a nuc. I will set up the other horizontal hive and also put a nuc in that. I do not plan to have any vertical hives this season unless some bees show up on my doorstep somehow! I did pull some honey off one of the vertical hives and hope to be able to crush and strain and use that.