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I need advice after 1st frame inspection

I have just done my 1st frame inspection of a new nuc that I installed in the brood box on 4th March.
When I installed the 4 frame nuc in the brood box I added 4 extra empty frames spaced between the nuc frames.
3 of the new frames now have comb on them to various degrees and appear to be doing well.
The only thing that concerns me is that 1 of the new frames has not been touched, the frame next to it, which is one of the nuc frames, has 60-70% of the cells that are almost black or a very dark grey and the cells are somewhat dented inwards.
Should I do something about this or just leave it ?
Being a newbee I have not seen this before and don’t know what it is.
Could it also be the cause of the new frame next to it, has not been touched ?
BTW, the 4 new frames were all without foundation, just a timber strip under the top of the frame

@George_Perth have you got photos? Your description is concerning as it makes me think of foulbrood.

Where did you get your Nuc from?


Info for you


EFB hasn’t been identified in WA but it exists in the East. Unless you’ve imported equipment from over East it is unlikely to be EFB.

Note that if you have or even suspect AFB you must report it within 48hrs.

Hi George are you sure you are not looking at a honey frame? Uncapped honey can look very dark especially in old comb, capped honey is slightly indented.

Hi George, some of us more experienced beekeepers would recommend to use properly fitted wax foundation instead of the wood starter strips. You’ll get a higher percentage of worker comb on those frames. Plus they will be easier to inspect & manage.

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The frame that hasn’t been touched is most likely because the colony doesn’t need to use it yet. When they need more cells for brood or storage they will build it out.
Without a pic or two of the dark comb I won’t make a guess as there are a few possibles to consider.
I agree with @JeffH and I always use foundation to eliminate the problems of not using it.

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In my opinion, installation of a nuc spacing frames with blanks/foundation is not ideal. Everything that goes inside of the nest has high build priority. And bees build those combs regardless of they actual needs. It is good tool to use on some occasions but may push nuc over as its workforce is relatively small.
It is impossible to give a recommendation on improvement without seeing the hive. But reading several sources on diseases of bees and their identification may become useful.

I will have another look at the frame in question. Today and tomorrow are out of the question with predicted temperatures in the high 30th.
I break out in a sweat just looking at my bee suit.
Hopefully Friday will be a cooler day and I will certainly take a photo of the frame then
In the meantime, thanks to everybody for your comments I have read them all and will take your comments on board, it helps me to consider various points of view and possible causes.
Cheers, G

Hi George, a photo is a must in this case.

Until then, were those black cells capped or uncapped? Did you see brood in them?

Spacing out the frames of the nuc with empty ones is a mistake in my opinion as other said.

Like you, I also went foundationless at first when I started, but was also a mistake.

@Zzz, Hi The black cells were all capped and slightly indented. I don’t recall if there was any brood in them, I did look at the other side of the frame but cannot give you a definitive answer on that.
As soon as the weather cools a bit, hopefully Friday, I will do another inspection and take photos of both sides of the frame.
I did get the nuc from beewise and this was the first time I inspected after the nuc was installed in the brood hive on 4th March.
The first nuc I got from Beewise, in January is doing great and I finished up putting the flow hive on to give the bees more space because the brood hive was overflowing it’s capacity.
Hopefully there will be more answers after I publish the photos.
Cheers, G

@George_Perth based on what you just typed…my concerns with EFB are slightly reduced. I’m now guessing it is old/dirty comb and honey cells you saw. Photos would still be good.

Hi Alan, I have now taken a photo from both sides of the frame.
It has changed considerably since last time I inspected.
It appears that most cells are capped and full of honey
Anyway, I will be interested to see what more experienced be keepers think
Cheers, G


Pretty much what I suspected George. It was a frame of honey.

I can remember it happened to me too in my earlier inspections. Honey can look quite dark when uncapped, at least here.

They’re gonna need that food for winter.

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That’s all honey. That isn’t black :slight_smile:

The way the frame is built out looks like it might give you issues when you attempt to push the frames together for correct spacing but otherwise it looks fine.

I’d start reading about swarm prevention for the back end of winter is I was you. That frame came from your brood box. We live relatively close and I often get a late winter or early spring (before flow season) harvest. Your brood box might end up honey locked before you realise in early spring.

(Fwiw, I usually pack my hive down late/end May for 2-2.5 months for winter. The last two winters I’ve kept a hybrid super in place over winter)

It is only an old frame of comb with honey in the cells. The black is the old wax and not the color of the honey.
Is that an outside frame from the brood box or from a super?

Thanks Olly, that is a relieve. Cheers, G

Hi Alan, thanks for getting back. I was just thinking, should I place the flow hive or another brood hive on top ?
I do not intent to harvest any honey before winter, I will leave it all to the bees till next spring.
What do you think ? Cheers. G

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Hi Peter, That frame, in the photos, was one frame in from the outside at my previous inspection, 4 days ago. I then swapped it over with the outside frame. The outside frame was the only frame that was empty and I thought it may help to swap them over. This morning it looked like the bees started to build comb on that frame.
Cheers, G

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Over here at the moment there is a strong honey flow happening and I’m extracting now and will be doing that over the cooler months. I don’t call it Winter as that can be misleading, in my cooler months I wear jeans instead of shorts for about six weeks and I don’t sweat-up with my bee suit on.
There is nothing wrong with leaving frames of honey in the hive for Winter supplies for your bees, if they don’t need it you can extract it in the Spring with no effect to the quality of the honey.
My brood box frames are covered with brood on all but the outside of the end frames that will have honey in there. Here I would be extracting that frame and adding a frame with new foundation fitted. The reason is that the cell sizes does reduce over time and I’ve seen hives with small bees being produced.
Some in your area leave a super on over Winter for extra Winter stores while others remove them and pack down the hives for the warmth… Some local advice would help with that.

I don’t think that is a good idea George. Keep the empty frames you add on the outside and let the bees grow at their own pace, otherwise you might be disrupting more than helping them.