From Bloom to Boom: Herbs4Bees

Reader Contribution by Melanie M. Kirby and Zia Queen Bees
article image

On top of my already full plate of professional beekeeping and queen honey bee breeding, collaborations are critical in these challenging times. I am collaborating with several farmer-researchers to investigate wild bergamot (Oregano de la Sierra) for pollinator health and value added products for farmers and beekeepers.Check out

Join us Friday, June 16, 2017 for the Herbs4Bees FREE Field Day!

 Oregano honey

From Bloom to Boom is a project initiated by NMSU- Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Science Center Horticulturist Robert Heyduck, farmer-researcher Todd Bates of NM Native Plant Recyclers, and queen honey bee breeder-researcher Melanie Kirby of Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute. This first investigation will share information on Oregano de la Sierra- a well known native New Mexican medicinal herb.

Todd Bates will share information on how he cultivates the plant- from its wild mountain roots, to adapting it to lower elevations along the Rio Grande and on its medicinal properties.

Robert Heyduck will share information on the process of the investigation and sampling/collection protocol for assessing the potential benefits of this glorious plant.

Melanie Kirby will share information on the importance of habitat and its relationship to pollinator health and fortifying locally adapted strains of pollinators.

Additional guest lecturers include Dr. Don Hyder- chemist at San Juan College (Farmington) who will share information on chemical analysis and composition of medicinal NM honeys and hive products….

Dr. Jay Evans- Director of the National Bee Lab in Beltsville, MD will share information on current pest and pathogen research for honeybees and native bees….

Dr. Olivia Messinger-Carril will share pollinator identification information and about her North American native bee book (Princeton Press), Know the Bees in your Backyard

Dr. Julie McIntyre- the SW Pollinator Coordinator of the US Fish & Wildlife Service will share information on NM native pollinators and conservation efforts.

This is a FREE event! Open to the public. Scroll down for research abstract and for registration, call Anna Trujillo- NMSU at 505.852.2668This initial project is funded in part by the NM Dept. of Agriculture/USDA- Specialty Crop Block Grant: Assessing Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia for possible honeybee health and habitat enhancement

Robert Heyduck1, Melanie Kirby2, Todd Bates3. 1New Mexico State University, Alcalde, NM. 2Zia Queen Bees, Truchas, NM. 3New Mexico Native Plant Recyclers, Embudo, NM.

Extracts of oregano (Origanum vulgare) have been shown to positively affect animal health and production in such varied organisms as poultry (Giannenas, et al. 2003 Archives of Animal Nutrition 57.2: 99-106), fish (Zheng, 2009 Aquaculture 292.3: 214-218), and rabbits (Botsoglou, et al. 2004 Archives of Animal Nutrition 58.3: 209-218).

The majority of this effect is attributed to carvacrol and thymol, two main constituents in the essential oil of oregano which have shown bactericidal action.

Specific to bee health, thymol has been used to successfully control varroa mites and prevent fermentation and the growth of mold in bee colonies (Calderone, 1999 J Econ Entomol 92.2: 253-260; Floris, 2004 J of Econ Entomol 97.2: 187-191), and thymol based formulations are already commercially available. In addition, essential oils of oregano have been tested as a supplement to realize the same effects.

Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia, is a widespread North American native plant (alternately known as bee-balm, wild bergamot, or oregano de la sierra) that possesses a similar chemical profile to oregano including carvacrol, thymol, α-pinene, β-pinene, sabinene hydrate, α-terpinene, citronellyl acetate, and β-caryophyllene (Zamureenko, et al. 1989 Chem Nat Compd 25.5: 549-551).

We seek to evaluate Monarada as a habitat enhancing plant by assessing the presence and relative concentration of thymol and carvacrol in nectar, honey, and hive architecture while Monarda is flowering and afterwards to determine the persistence of the chemical constituents and evaluate the effect on mite populations.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368