Sounds like classic varroa infestation to me. Did you check the bottom board? If varroa killed the hive you should find thousands of them on the bottom board.
The bees dead emerging from their cells with their tongues sticking out is a sign of lack of nourishment at the critical time of emergence due to a lack of nurse bees- again, a classic sign of varroa infestation. Finding some bees head first in cells doesn't in and of itself mean they starved. Bees cluster on empty cells, not capped honey. The bees enter the cells head first in the middle of the cluster, on both sides of the comb so the only thing separating the bees on either side of the comb is the midrib itself. The bees then cluster on/around those bees in effect creating a "ball" of bees with the comb running up through the middle. Larger clusters could envelope several combs in this fashion. Really small clusters will fit between two combs but they still will bury themselves in the cells to make their cluster as round as possible. A pancake of bees between two combs does not heat itself very efficiently. A cluster composed of two pancakes of bees on either side of a comb, almost in contact, is much easier to heat.
Going into winter, the cluster usually starts out in or near the middle of the bottom box and ideally one or two combs in the middle of the brood nest in the bottom deep will be largely empty, perhaps with some honey and pollen around the outside. This would be where they raised their last batch of brood. Ideally, the combs in the upper box will be full of capped honey. As winter progresses, the bees will eat their way up leaving empty comb behind them until the get to the top. Hopefully by this time it will be spring, but often it's still late winter. This is a critical tiime for the bees because then they must move sideways to access fresh stores. If the weather is still very cold and prolonged, the bees can get stranded with fresh stores only inches away, but unable to move to it because they're too tightly clustered. When the get to the top, they'll often move towards the southerly or southwesterly side of the box which catches more early spring sunlight and is hence warmer. Coincidentally, this is often where there is some pollen stored, which is necessary for them to start raising brood in the spring. This is a particularly risky time- kickstarting the colony for spring buildup.
If the bees cluster on capped honey, there are in effect 2 clusters on either side of the comb and they will be unable to generate enough heat to keep themselves warm. Instead, by clustering adjacent to stores on empty comb, they are able to extend the cluster to cover enough honey to provide nourishment for the cluster. Slowly over the course of the winter, as the stores are consumed, the cluster moves to stay adjacent to fresh stores.
When they run out of stores, they will starve. When their numbers dwindle to the point where they can't maintain sufficient heat production to enable them to move to cover fresh stores, they will starve. If they have begun to raise brood in early spring and they run out of stores adjacent to their cluster, they will not abandon the brood, and they will starve. In any case, you will often find bees head first in cells in deadouts whose numbers dwindled to below the critical mass to stay warm, even when they're sitting on honey. To determine if they died due to starvation, you have to look closely at the evidence.