Will my hive make it through winter?

It’s wasn’t December yet when I made this discovery, but I think one of my nucs from this spring is going to have a hard time getting through winter. When I checked the hive by looking up through the wire-screen on the bottom, I saw hundreds of dead bees. All my other hives clean the bottom of their hive by carrying debris out, but this one apparently hadn’t. A more experienced beekeeper advised me to clean the bottom before letting the hive go into winter any further, because when the dead bees start to decompose, they can make the live bees sick.

I did as he suggested, and gathered the dead bees so I could inspect them later. The live bees in the hive had a very compact nest on about 3-4 frames. I really hope they make it through winter. I know I left them with enough foodstores, but I’ll have to put more effort into getting the varroa out than what’s considered normal in my area for this time of year.

What I found among the dead bees makes me suspect I need to blame varroa for the difficulties.

Many dead bees still had varroa attached to their bodies. Some pupae, both drone and worker brood had been discarded by the hive before they grew into bees.

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