Saturday, I began the autopsy of Bee Glad... and Metpropolis. I was planning on continuing my examination of both hives on Sundy but the weather did not cooperate.
Bee Glad... probably died because of what I suspected originally: starvation in the midst of abundance. The top two deeps were jam-packed with honey with no empty comb cells for the cluster to move up through. (Below is pictured a typical frame)
The cluster was in the bottom box. Many of these bees were found dead, head-first in cells. There was only one place where "spotting" might indicate a Nosema problem.
I collected some bees for microscopic examination.
Metpropolis' autopsy does not seem as definitive. Again there was plenty of untouched honey and pollen in the hive. However, despite my best efforts in the fall, the bees still moved the honey to both sides of the brood nest. This probably happened because I moved the top bars of honey around a little too early in fall, giving the bees enough time to rearrange things during the warm spell in late October. Because the honey was located on both sides, the winter cluster had become too diffused and separated throughout the brood nest, and when extreme cold occurred the bees couldn't keep the cluster temperature warm enough.
Two other things are worth mentioning about Metpropolis. First, the hive still had an usually high percentage of drones in it when it died. Whether this is an indication of some underlying problem is a question that needs further research. Second, I was able to find the queen. (pictured below) She looks healthy but I will do a closer examination of her body in the future.