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Okay, we had been feeding our two new packages a steady uninterrupted diet of 1:1 sugar syrup. The frames were filling out with foundation very quickly. Last Tuesday, we pulled the feeders as this time of the year is the nectar flow and we could risk problems of overfeeding. We inspected the hives on Saturday and the bees had not made any visible progress from the previous inspection of a week earlier. We are concerned that maybe the nectar is not flowing in our location and the bees are suffering as a result. We noticed just today that, due to a late freeze, our blackberries are just now blooming. The fields here have wild clover that has been in bloom now for over a week. To add insult to injury, I did another close inspection of the newest brood cells in our one hive for which we have yet to see the queen and it appears that no eggs are in any of the finished brood cells. Also, those cells are a very dark brown color. At first the brood cells were yellow while the honey cells were whiter. What causes these brood cells to turn this dark chocolate brown color? This is becoming a very frustrating hobby.
 

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The brown staining is poop. Totally normal. If you see no eggs no larvae in the whole hive, yes that is cause for concern. How many boxes have they filled with their brood nest? You can keep feeding until they draw three medium, two deep if you like.
 

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Bees don't poop in the hive unless they're diseased(nosema and such) The staining is caused from the cocoons when the new bees hatch. It gets darker after each brood cycle that's why old brood comb almost looks black. When did you install the packages? Is any of the syrup capped?
 

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I had a similar experience a about a month ago. One of my new hive starts (from a package) just seemed to be stagnate after I stopped feeding. I did an inspection and noticed that there were very little honey/nectar even though I 'thought' we were in a flow. I fed them again for a week and it was just what the doctor ordered - they were building comb, looking and acting healthier, and back on track. They have been off the sugar water for 3 weeks now, and are storing honey and pollen, brood looks very healthy.

My advice is don't hesitate on feeding if you think they are low on stores - especially for new package starts where they may not have much in the way of reserves. You are looking to make bees as quickly and efficiently as possible with a new package. Lots of bees = lots of food.

Oh and the chocolate brown cells are what they look like when they have a new generation of bees emerge. It gets darker the more cycles of brood.
 

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As others have said, keep the feed on them until they get the broodnest box or boxes all drawn and used. They need at least a full deep box of drawn comb being used before they have a large enough broodnest to be able to build up stronger from there on their own.
 

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Oh my goodness!!!! Are you all telling me that we may have already had bees emerge from the brood? Our packages were installed exactly one month ago today! There is capped honey on all of the brood frames in the upper corners. As I move from the center frames toward the end frames the percentage of brood to honey decreases (more honey, less brood). So, it appears we have hatched some bees. But, although most of the brood appeared to have some honey/nectar in the bottom, I could see no eggs anywhere. Wife and I will do an inspection again later this week to see what is happening. Thanks all, you folks are good at cheering up a discouraged newbie! Guess I should listen to my wife when she tells me to stop worrying! (She has read at least two bee keeper books cover to cover....so when I tell her something I learned from this forum she usually replies,"What??....You didn't know that!???....You need to read those books!!!!!") I now have hope for this struggling hive!!! It seems each time we go to inspect, the traffic at the entrance is less and less....but when we open the hive it is packed with very active busy bees working away. Thanks again everybody!!
 

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Don't start inspecting from the center of the hive. Start with the 1st frame, pull the frame out set it aside then you'll have room to pull the other frame. Any frame you pull after the 1st frame can be put back in the hive. You'll have less chance of rolling the queen and damaging the queen(Can you say supercedure):no:
 

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Whether or not you feed them – whether or not you do anything at all to them – for approximately the first month, the population of a "package" will decline precipitously. This is simply because the worker-bees that were in the caged box are dying-off ... of old age. Their purpose is to build combs so that the Queen can lay eggs in them. Which they will do. But, nothing will replace the declining population until those eggs hatch. The population will decline until their numbers are quite small, and beekepers will fret, trying to figure out how to "help." There's nothing to be done, because there's nothing wrong.

About six weeks after the package has been installed, bees should be hatching-out every single day, and in greater numbers than the older bees die off. The population at that point should fairly explode. But this is a natural occurrence which has nothing at all to do with sugar-water or the lack thereof.

Your sugar-water, also, isn't nectar. :no: Sugar-water will ferment; nectar won't. Well-intentioned though you might be, you're not necessarily doing a beehive a favor by dumping sucrose or ... heaven help us all ... high-fructose corn syrup into it. Yes, the bees will "put it up," and you might rejoice at how much "honey" you have – and, six months from now, when your harvest of honey "sugars up," just be mindful of how much of that stuff might actually be your evaporated sugar. If there is a plentiful supply of flowers around, bees will travel far and wide to harvest it, and that's what a beehive was meant to eat. If you can see flowers about, so can they.
 

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Don't start inspecting from the center of the hive. Start with the 1st frame, pull the frame out set it aside then you'll have room to pull the other frame. Any frame you pull after the 1st frame can be put back in the hive. You'll have less chance of rolling the queen and damaging the queen(Can you say supercedure):no:
Well said.
In a 10 frame, this also works well: Pull the outer 2 frames (one at a time). Then slide the next three ( as a unit) all the way to that side and have access to the middle of the brood nest with little chance of rolling. & when I say "access" I mean prying one or the other frame over 1/2 inch or so before it's lifted. Most everything a beek needs to observe can be accomplished in this manner, with minimal intrusion & risk.

2 qts of syrup/wk will keep a 3 lb pkg from starving for the first month. Add 1500mg of vit C to 1 gallon of syrup (inferred from Bush - 7000mg/5gal). Or a "splush" of vinegar - 'sorry, no definitive recipe's , yet. 'Lowers ph to the honey range - inhibits fermentation, many other benefits.
 

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Bees don't poop in the hive unless they're diseased(nosema and such) The staining is caused from the cocoons when the new bees hatch. It gets darker after each brood cycle that's why old brood comb almost looks black. When did you install the packages? Is any of the syrup capped?
Yes, Slow drone you are correct, cocoons and poop. Larvae do poop in the hive. MD
 
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