Well, we just became part of a national statistic. Last fall, we had a colony of bees that was doing great. I had checked, and they seemed to have a ton of honey stored, so I was fairly confident in their ability to make it through. I planned to put some fondant bee candy to feed them over the winter just to be safe, but I wasn't really all that worried about it. When everything started to happen in the fall, feeding the bees kept getting put off. I fed them in early December, which I though would be plenty early enough, but saw no indication of activity in the hive when I put the fondant in, and I was sure I had put it off to late and lost the hive. I was not a happy camper most of the winter thinking I had killed my colony.
Today, I set out to clean the hive and get it set up for a new colony this year. When I went to pick it up it weighted a ton, which a relatively empty box shouldn't. I popped it apart and discovered a) very few bees at all in the hive and b) almost 8 full frames of honey. There was one small cluster of less than 200 bees in the center, and some of them were head first into empty comb cells like they do when they starve, but less than an inch away the comb was full of honey. Based on plenty of food, and practically no dead bees, I think this is colony collapse disorder. There is no reason for them to have absconded late in the season and abandoned lots of stores, and I am pretty sure the queen was in the little cluster of dead bees that I found. Weird, and frustrating, but at least I feel better that I didn't starve my bees to death...It will be curious to see what happens this year.