Using Essential Oils for Honeybees

| 3/25/2014 12:28:00 PM

Tags: beekeeping, essential oils, honeybees, Illinois, Julia Miller,

Circle of BeesThe Polar Vortex landed a blow to the Mid-West where Five Feline Farm is located. Many of the beekeepers in this area report a significant loss of colonies over the harsh winter. One beekeeper described opening a hive to find bees appearing frozen in place. The entire colony dead.

Our losses are not confirmed at this point but at least one of the two hives appears alive. The bees show signs of cleansing flights and cleaning of the hive. These stories of colony death prompted me to search for ways to improve the health of our bees to guard against such losses.

This is where essential oils come in.

Over the winter, we fed candy boards purchased from a reputable source that included protein and a product called Honey B Healthy. My research shows this is basically a proprietary mix of essential oils.

As a small operation, we have the option to create our own supplements in manageable quantities. This does two things. First it is likely a cheaper route and we can control the ingredients both in proportion and quality.

Three primary essential oils are useful in beekeeping: lemongrass, spearmint and thyme. Other oils such as wintergreen, spearmint and tea tree oil are also used in some formulations. When selecting an essential oil, it is critical to source food grade oils. Organic certification is a plus. All of these essential oils are plant based, natural products safe for human consumption. Most are readily available in health food stores.

8/16/2017 1:05:24 PM

I would add the oils after it cools. Heat breaks down the oils and you have less of an affect with healing properties..

7/4/2017 6:14:14 PM

Join the Audubon society go under natural plants for birds, butterflies & caterpillars will give you native plant names for your area zip code, some plants even say nectar bearing, you can plant and feed your bee environment!

12/13/2015 10:24:48 AM

I am a natural health practitioner and hobby bee keeper. Yes there is such a thing as therapeutic grade essential oils, unfortunately this is not regulated at this time, although Gary Young is fighting to make it so (to keep unethical groups from adding chemicals or cutting the essential oil with other substances). That said, I would love to hear of your experience using this recipe, see if you've incorporated the thyme into a treatment yet, and find out if you've tried colloidal silver to treat for nosema yet. I've been experimenting with the colloidal silver treatment on my bees and am wondering if anyone else has any observations to add. Thanks.

5/18/2015 7:56:11 PM

Turtlebackhollow, you add it to one quart of syrup. There is no such thing as therapeutic grade essential oils except when used as a marketing term by a couple of pyramid-scheme essential oil producers. TsandiCrew I have hives that starve with loads of honey in the hive. They sometimes just won't move to it. Also, many hives die in winter not from a lack of honey but because disease has infested the hive and they can't fight it successfully over winter. These essential oil recipes are to help boost the bee's immune systems and fight the mites that carry and transfer disease in the hive. The syrup or patties are used as distribution methods. You seem awfully judgmental about something you don't seem to understand well.

4/6/2015 1:09:52 AM

Food grade essential oils can be diluted and cut with synthetics. Better to focus on therapeutic-grade essential oils, as not all oils are made the same. I have an outstanding source of therapeutic-grade oils, visit for info!

9/22/2014 10:13:50 AM

You are supposed to leave enough honey for the bees to eat through the winter. They don't make honey for us. They make it for them. We just come and rob them. So of course they die in the winter. Really heartbreaking.

3/28/2014 3:18:53 PM

I've have made wintergreen grease patties to control varroa and had some success. I was just wondering why the recipe above doesn't include the Thyme oil discussed in the article?

3/28/2014 11:39:40 AM

How much 1:1 sugar syrup are you adding the 2 tsp to?

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