The brace comb appears to be fortified with propolis.
Disappointing news: we swept up some of the debris from the floor of the hive and found a Varroa mite. Feral colonies were nearly wiped out by these parasites in the late 80's. We put a jar of syrup into the hive, hoping the girls would feed on the essential oil laced "nectar," but they don't seem to be interested in it at all.
Other than the Echinacea and Black-Eyed Susans, which the bees seem completely disinterested in as well, I haven't seen much of anything blooming for a couple of weeks. But according to my allergies, something out there is flowering and making pollen like gangbusters. I can't tell where the bees go, once I lose them in the bright Colorado sun, but they leave the hive flying fast and climbing high into the sky, knowing exactly where whatever-it-is is.
We'll try giving them syrup again when the Fall nectar flow is finished. The asters are beginning to bud and the "Autumn Joy" sedum are finally turning pink. I used to dread these harbingers of Fall and the ensuing Winter, but now I can hardly wait to see the girls foraging for fresh food in our own back yard.