Dealing With Dead Colonies
If you unfortunately have lost some colonies over the winter, it is important that you handle the dead colonies and equipment appropriately. The equipment from colonies lost during the winter should be removed from the apiary, or at least sealed up as soon as possible to prevent robbing. Remove clusters of dead bees before they mold or decompose within the combs. Removing every dead bee from the cells is not necessary; after they dry up, you can shake them out or leave them for the bees to remove later in the spring. Any honey that remains will likely absorb moisture and ferment. Try to determine why the colonies failed to survive (e.g., disease, mites, too small a population, starvation). If you are certain that the honey is from a disease-free colony, use this honey on colonies needing winter feed or as feed for newly installed packages or nucs. Colonies that have died from American foulbrood should be destroyed.