any chance that you had a yellowjacket or wasp invasion? many might be killed, including the queen, then the others might drift to queen right hives.
i have never lost an entire hive like this, but i have lost queens and many bees when the hive is overwhelmed. nothing left for it but to combine the few survivors with another hive.....
No, kathyp, this was something systemic. You could just see it happening...bees left the hive to twitch on the ground, and then they died there. And ALL the dead bees (no survivors) are spread on the ground just outside the hive entrance. No bees died inside the hive. The hive body is totally empty. No dead bees on the bottom.
sweet bee: please let me know what your aunt discovers about her lost hive.
And what authorities would I contact in order to explore the cause of this? I have no idea where to begin. We do have a bee lab at Ohio State University...perhaps I should start there.