Stop Bee Colony Failures: Excel with Nucs & Packages Using ProtectaBEE®

Stop Bee Colony Failures: Excel with Nucs & Packages Using ProtectaBEE®

Ensuring the Health and Success of Your Bee Nucs and Packages: Essential Tips and the Role of ProtectaBEE®

Starting your journey as a beekeeper with a new nucleus (nuc) or package of bees can be thrilling yet daunting. While your supplier will provide you with the basics, there are critical details often overlooked that can determine the success and health of your new colony. Here’s a comprehensive guide to ensure your bees not only survive but thrive, featuring the indispensable ProtectaBEE® for all-season protection.

Initial Inspection: What to Look For

When your bees arrive, conduct a thorough inspection to set a healthy foundation:

  • Eggs and Brood: Confirm the presence of eggs, all stages of larvae, and capped brood. This indicates a currently active queen who is laying consistently. You may or may not see the queen, but eggs mean she has been there in the last couple of days.
  • Queen Cells vs. Queen Cups: Identify if there are any queen cells which may suggest upcoming swarming or loss of a queen. Queen cups, however, are normal (See image below for comparison).
  • Signs of Disease: Look for diseases like chalkbrood, foulbrood, sac brood, and symptoms of deformed wing virus or the presence of varroa mites. Early identification is key to managing these issues promptly.

Varroa Mite Management

Despite pre-treatment by suppliers, varroa mites remain a potent threat to bee health:

  • Initial and Ongoing Checks: Use a 72-hour natural mite drop or an alcohol wash on 300 bees to evaluate the mite load. Regular checks are crucial to prevent infestations from taking hold.

Robbing Prevention with ProtectaBEE®

Robbing by established colonies can devastate weak nucs. ProtectaBEE® cones provide an effective defense mechanism, crucial for new colonies:

  • All-Season Protection: ProtectaBEE® cones are designed to safeguard vulnerable hives throughout the year. By limiting hive access to potential robbers while allowing free entry and exit for your bees, these cones reduce stress and prevent colony collapse due to robbing.

  • Insurance for Your Hive: Think of ProtectaBEE® as insurance for your hive’s health and productivity. It significantly diminishes the chances of robbing, giving your colony the best possible start and a strong defense against intruders.

Comb Building: Maximizing Bee Efficiency

Drawing comb is a resource-intensive activity for bees, and new beekeepers often lack the advantage of this technique.

  • Enhanced Waxing: Apply an additional layer of wax to pre-waxed frames to encourage bees to build comb efficiently.

Feeding Strategy: Provide a 1:1 sugar syrup using an IN-HIVE FEEDER (either a top feeder or frame feeder, not a front jar feeder which will bring all the robbers to your yard) to promote comb building while protecting against external robbers. This is SUPER important for hive survival as bees need a place to store food and babies!

Simple Sugar Syrup Recipe for Bees:

  • Ingredients: Equal parts plain white granulated sugar (NOT ORGANIC OR MOLASSES) and water (i.e., 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water). You can add other products to enhance health.
  • Preparation:  Heat the water and dissolve the sugar to create a syrup (Boiling is BAD).
  • Feeding: Use an in-hive feeder to minimize exposure and prevent robbing.

Ongoing Vigilance and Supplier Interaction

  • Regular Monitoring: Monitor the hive closely, particularly for signs of disease or queen failure. Immediate action can prevent broader issues.
  • Supplier Guarantee: Should you find significant problems, please reach out to your supplier for a possible replacement, especially if signs of disease or queen loss are evident.

    My Personal Experience: Embracing Beekeeping Realities

  • Starting as a treatment-free beekeeper (no syrup, no treatments for 8 years) taught me valuable lessons as challenges like mite bombs arose with the popularity of beekeeping. My approach evolved to include proactive management strategies, emphasizing that beekeeping is not just a hobby—it's a responsibility or a "response-bee-lity."

Me many moons ago when I was top bar beekeeping 


  • Properly establishing your nucs or bee packages with the right inspection, protection from robbing using ProtectaBEE®, and adequate resources for comb building sets the foundation for a thriving colony. ProtectaBEE® not only acts as a robust barrier against potential robbers but also ensures peace of mind, knowing that your bees are secure and can focus on growing strong and healthy. With these practices, your beekeeping journey is poised for success, paving the way for a sustainable and rewarding experience.

Bee well and wishing you the best success in the 2024 bee season,