Updated: Mar 3, 2019
This is the first time it's happened to us and I'm gutted we've lost a prime colony. It was one of our strongest colonies and they had loads of store available to them in the hive. We only found less than a couple of hundred bees that had died clustered up together - lots of them with their heads deep down in the comb getting the last bits of honey from the bottom. I suspect they were just too cold and few to keep warm. Sadly, they were surrounded by fresh available stores but it's no use to them if they are freezing to death.
What happened? Well best guess is the queen - did she swarm during September without us knowing and leave the hive without a chance of getting a new mated queen? We know that there was lots and lots of sealed and unsealed brood early in September so perhaps this is what may have happened. Without a mated a queen they would certainly be doomed.
That's now five of us along with Eileen, Di, Tammie and Becky who have had colony losses this winter. But - being good beekeepers, we will recover and make up these losses one way or another. And as we look to be over the worst of the current cold spell - this will give the remaining colonies a chance to get started for the spring build up.