1 (of a person) At the point of death.
2 (of a thing) In terminal decline; lacking vitality or vigor.
Yesterday's cut out was moribund. As always when doing a cutout I am the investigator and this one had no definitive clues and I have no answers. I'll list my observations and throw it out for conjecture.
Private residence that has just sold, new owner is my client. Client does not know the history of the colony and first observed activity the first week of May when he decided to purchase the home. He described the activity to me as "swarming" around the entry. Entry is a walnut sized hole at the junction of a bay window and the overhanging balcony above.
What I observe upon arrival is no real activity to speak of maybe a single bee or two every few minutes. Definitely not an active colony, I suspect a deadout and tell the client as much. Temperature check of all interior walls and ceiling does not detect any heat from a broodnest banging and tapping elicits no reaction so I again opine that we have a deadout and cutting may not be required as robbing or SHB sliming may have already occurred.
A look into the entrance though reveals intact comb so the cavity is opened. What is revealed is new comb of a light color plugged out with nectar and some capped honey, more nectar than honey. A small amount of bees are scattered over the comb but most appear to be clustered along the edges of the cavity, maybe a pound's worth of bees total. I look for chewed caps and wax litter on the bottom of the cavity to see if robbing has occurred and no evidence is found.
Demeanor of the bees is excessively calm as no smoke has been used to this point and I have not suited up. I begin the removal of the comb a piece at a time inspecting each as it is removed. Almost all of it is thick honey storage that is plugged out. A very small amount of drone cells are found but no brood or eggs, the cells appear absolutely clean and do not look to have ever been used. What brood comb is found is small, an area somewhere between a tennis ball and baseball in size. No eggs or larvae found. The cell bottoms are polished and stained a light brown so maybe one brood cycle but no more.
At this point zero pollen aka bee bread has been found anywhere in the comb. The bees are still mostly found outside the comb clustered on the edges of the cavity. No queen is found and fewer than a dozen drones have been observed. No evidence of queen cells, cups or bases have been found anywhere on the comb. Overall the comb is as pure and pristine as one would expect to find in a month old colony the total volume of comb and honey fills a five gallon bucket to the top. Amazingly not a single SHB is observed during the entire process.
Here's my opinion based on observation. Sometime early in the establishment of the colony the queen stroked/died/went MIA, probably about the time required to lay a small cluster of eggs. The swarm continued on as if nothing happened building comb and plugging it out and never attempted to requeen itself. As mortality slowly overtook the field force all that was left was a small amount of moribund bees left in the cavity that I found.