You can also see part of the other side of the cluster on the frame below this one. As you can see the bees were clustered over honey and they died despite more capped honey just four inches away on the same frame. This often happens when the temperatures are below freezing in Atlanta for days. The bees have to make a good initial decision about where to locate the cluster. If they miscalculate, they die.
These dead bees had a whole box of honey above them and more honey on the frame on which they died.
In addition there were a ton of dead, molded bees on the screened bottom board:
The second lost hive was Tom's swarm #2. There were two medium supers completely filled with honey and the hive looked like it was in relatively good shape - no wax moth damage, no small hive beetles. In the next to the bottom box (this hive had four boxes), I found a tiny tennis ball size group of bees in a semi cluster. The queen was in this group.
They were not head down in the cells. The queen was thin and looked what Keith Fielder would call "short bred." Because these bees look as if they dwindled and the queen was so small, my guess is that they replaced their queen just before winter and she did not mate well. There were probably few drones around when she went on her mating flight. There was a little scattered capped brood.
There was no mold in the hive because it didn't go into winter with bees creating heat/moisture in the hive. The honey held up because we had a pretty cold winter for Atlanta - I wore my coat from November 2014 through February 2015, and in 2013 only got my coat out after January 2014 began.
The bees simply dwindled and died out.
So it's a new year; my foot is healed; let's hope for a better bee season.