Even if it WAS CCD, which I'm not convinced (doesn't seem like there was enough capped brood for that) I have still learned a lot of valuable lessons about better management processes which will help me overwinter next year. We are not near any large commercial fields though (not even within three or four miles that I'm aware of) around here it's mostly too straight up and down for good farmland :p So I'm not sure how much real pesticide spraying there is going on. Mostly we have a lot of native meadows, small gardens, and some fruit trees. plus the tiny local graveyard next to us is literally carpeted with thyme :) As far as I know, local beeks don't have problems with persistantly losing all of their hives, although my experience of them is quite limited. I can't get away to attend the local club, and the only beeks in my immediate location have been so negative that I've stopped talking to them :(
as per swarming.... I didn't think first year hives that still had empty frames were prone to it? Bee mentor told me I'd probably have to worry next year but not this. Also, I thought that a queenless hive produced multiple queen cells, then the first queen to to emerge stung all the others to death and took over the hive? Wouldn't that be the simpler explanation?
I definitely DID have at least a small mite problem late in the year, because I found feces in some spots on the brood, it wasn't by any means on all the brood, and I never saw a deformed bee. certainly it was more than likely a contributing factor, and next year I will be putting in drone comb and trapping for mites. Again, I didn't think (as per mentor again) that this was going to be a huge problem my first year out, but it seems that it certainly could have contributed significantly to the downfall of an already weak hive.
also (not that it really matters) mouse is a "she" ;)