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Thread: Salt for bees?

  1. #1
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    Default Salt for bees?

    A long time beekeeper in our bee club says he puts salt on the landing board for his bees. I have noticed especially this summer while working in my truckpatch the bees landing on my arms licking sweat (sometimes as many as 6 or 8) i let them alone until they start getting under my arm i know what will happen if i mashed one.My wife says it has to be the salt that i'm not that sweet. Do bees need salt? Jack

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    >Do bees need salt . . .
    That a great debate Bees are often seen "taking salt", but the only research that I am aware of says, "salt reduces bees life span" and other negative effects.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    I don't know about honey bees, however growing up on a truck farm as a kid,as we were picking or with a hoe in our hand you might say from Dawn till Dusk, The tiny sweat bees were all over our bare sweaty skin, Pitching hay bales was the same way, only you had to include the dust.

    Then again I believe I read all living things need salt.

    I have also read on these forums for what it's worth, people were getting those small red rabbit salt blocks, crushing them up and mixing with water for the bees ????

    PCM

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    The forumla for grease patties in Beekeeping for Dummies includes mineral salt.

    You have picked my whole brain about salt for bees

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    True! All living things need salt.
    I personaly ad a spoonful to the five gallon container/bee waterer. Bees are there constantly, even though they are only about 100 feet from the lake where they get all the water they want.
    Personally I know that a certain number of bees from each hive go out and seek salt. If one don't provide a safe (preferably sea-salt) they will go on the P-puddles, manure and such places where salt is available.

    Research has shown that too much salt - like licking pure salt - will shorten their lives somewhat. . .

    So, feel free to give them some in the water. This is written in various books, how much to a quart, but I forgot. (it is a gram or two, thereabouts)

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    The only time we use salt on bees is when we fry up drone larvae. They are nice and crunchy. Not much taste though.
    Home of the ventilated and sting resistant Ultra Breeze bee suits and jackets
    http://www.honeymoonapiaries.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    Fried drone larva? I bet Hambone has a recipe to fry them with bacon, it would give them a little taste.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    It sticks in my mind that BEES4U (or maybe it was tecumseh?) said they put a spoonful of mineral salts on the topbars of a hive in spring.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    It was big Ern.

    Some of us give the bees trace minerized salt in the spring by placing a teaspoon of it on top the frames at the back of the hive.
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...highlight=salt
    Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked Hulk in the face. Now he hides in the forest and changed his name to Shrek

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    This will be a good experiment in the spring if I remember to do it.

    Two bird baths in the garden, placed there for the benefit of the bees living just over the garden fence. One (if I somehow manage to remember) I'll lightly mix in some salt with the water. The other will remain as pure as the driven snow (or at least the melted snow that finds its way out of the tap.)

    Then I'll pour a glass of wine and go out and sit in the garden and do some serious field observations measuring the traffic volume at the bird baths. This will determine the preferances of the bees regarding salinated water vs. plain water.

    Then, if there is enough wine, I can sit there and try to come up with a way to measure bee mortality as relates to salinity.

    I love science.

    Wayne

  11. #11

    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    I abut a marsh so no worries on salt here.
    The pollen patty recipe I use does call for salt and I do include it when I mix up for actual patties. (I do not include it when dry-mixing for foraging bees)
    Erin Forbes, EAS Master Beekeeper
    overlandhoney.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by peacekeeperapiaries View Post
    Fried drone larva? I bet Hambone has a recipe to fry them with bacon, it would give them a little taste.
    Tom G. Makes the best. Light table Honey is recommended.



    Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked Hulk in the face. Now he hides in the forest and changed his name to Shrek

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    Hambone, that pic looks like a nice topping for ice cream! honey glazed drone larva!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hambone View Post
    Tom G. Makes the best. Light table Honey is recommended.




    Looks just like General Tao Chicken!!!
    De Colores,
    Ken

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave W View Post
    >Do bees need salt . . .
    That a great debate Bees are often seen "taking salt", but the only research that I am aware of says, "salt reduces bees life span" and other negative effects.
    I'd like to see what current research you guys have found. From my files, I have an old copy of a page from the ABJ, February 1977, page 76. The research quoted a Russian scientist who did his research in 1961. F. R. Piskovoi wrote, "Poisoning Bees With Common Salt."

    In his research he found common table salt in levels as low as .125% in sugar syrup caused dysentery and mortality in caged bees. Note this was for CAGED bees which do not perform the same as free-range bees.

    He continued his research in overwintering colonies with honey stores containing .35% to 1.16% salt. Those bees died prematurely. But this was for OVERWINTERED bees, which I'm going to guess were confined to the hive (?).

    Now for the contrary opinion.

    Bob Horr, Ph.D. Lexington NY, wrote in the ABJ, "Salt--An Important Dietary Supplement in Honey Bee Nutrition?" I have a copy of the single-page article on page 662 of the ABJ, unfortunately, the opposite page had the month/year, so I don't know when it was published.

    Dr. Horr experimented with spring time feeding of bees having access to different salt concentrations. He found anything above 1% tended to increase honeybee mortality and shorten life span.

    However, salt concentrations of .5% provided the most optimal longevity in bees, actually increasing their life span. Concentrations less than .5% increased the lifespans as well, but not as much as the .5% concentrations.

    He further went on to say that more bees lined up at the feeder with .5% than the other concentrations. Somehow he concluded that wax foundations were drawn out 40% faster with the salted water.

    If this is true (and I'd love to have more current research quoted to me), then the question becomes, how do I find .5%?

    There are 192 teaspoons per quart. .5% of a quart is .96 teaspoons. My math suggests a scant teaspoon of salt per quart, or slightly less than 4 teaspoons per gallon.

    I've tried to track down Dr. Horr to continue this conversation. The last info anyone has is that he is somewhere in Europe.

    Interesting study, but I'd like to hear more current stuff.

    All the best,

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    Here's some information on salt for bees dated 17 May 2006:

    Wintergreen + Salt Grease Patties
    17 May 2006
    Early in our SARE grant research (Amrine & Noel 2001), we began to use grease patties with
    wintergreen to control varroa mites during winter months. We reasoned that during November to
    March, when the adult bees formed the winter cluster and no brood was being produced, that the
    adult, female varroa mites would be very susceptible to a treatment. We reasoned that placing a
    grease patty with sugar and wintergreen oil above the cluster would help to eliminate the varroa
    mites.
    Our original formula did not contain honey or salt; we added the honey in order to make the patties more
    attractive to the cluster. Later, our friends in Canada suggested using salt to cause the patties to be more
    attractive to the bees. We first used the granular salt straight from a bag of livestock salt purchased from a
    feed store (about $7). We found out, during winter, that water from the air collected around the large salt
    crystals and dripped down onto the cluster, wetting the bees. So, we ground the salt to a fine powder in a
    heavy duty blender. (Less durable blenders broke down when grinding the coarse salt crystals.) The salt
    caused the bees to take the grease patties twice as fast as with the original formula; in 14 d vs 30 or more
    days.
    Current Formula:4.4 pounds (1814.4 g) of granulated sugar (sucrose)
    3 ounces (88.8 ml) of corn oil
    1.5 Pounds (680.4 g) of vegetable shortening (Crisco)
    1 pound (463.4 g) of honey
    1/2 Pound (226.8 g) of mineral salt (pink color) approx. $8.00 for 50 # from feed stores.
    2.2 ounces(65 ml) of wintergreen oil.
    One batch will treat about 8-10 hives, depending on the number of brood chambers, size of patties, etc. We
    Place 5 small patties (about 2 ozs each; the size of small hamburgers on a grill) on top of each brood
    chamber and add a 1/2" [1.27 cm] Aroll@ across the entrance, about 3/4" [1.9 cm] back in (otherwise, rain
    will wash it away).
    NOTE: Colonies must be treated using this system BEFORE mite populations reach injury level to the
    colony. We have observed once the colonies reach parasitic mite syndrome (deformed wings), they are too
    weak/sick to consume enough of the patties to do any good.
    Regards,
    Ernie
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  17. #17
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    Chicago, Illinois, USA
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave W View Post
    >Do bees need salt . . .
    That a great debate Bees are often seen "taking salt", but the only research that I am aware of says, "salt reduces bees life span" and other negative effects.
    Could you please reference citations or links of where you read research that states "salt reduces bees life span" and other negative effects?

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    I would like to try this. What is Aroll@
    Meridith

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    I put a brick sized brown mineral salt block under my hive stand, 3 hives SBB, and have seen it fully covered with bees as well as no bees for days. FBM thinks they need it, but I am not sure if it is a constant need or a surge, occasional need.
    Last edited by mmmooretx; 10-14-2012 at 07:29 AM. Reason: typo
    Mike
    N5RWH - 9a

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Salt for bees?

    I think that a salt block might get covered by bees for reasons other than their need for salt. My sawdust pile and occasionally the chicken feeders get visited by the bees and I'm reasonably sure the bees are not satisfying a nutritional need for wood or finely ground corn. They are likely seeing the material as a possibly convenient source of pollen. It's often advised to add salt, chlorine and other materials to water provided for bees to lure them and encourage them to use that water rather than a neighbor's pool. We can be sure that the bees have little nutritional need for chlorine and could assume the same might be true for the added salt.

    That bees have existed for many thousands of years without the need for mineral salt blocks under their hives tells me that they are deriving their sodium requirements from natural sources. Indeed, an article on Honeybee Nutrition by Zachary Huang claims this is so:

    The mineral requirements of honey bees are poorly understood. High amounts of potassium, phosphate, and magnesium are required by all other insects, and so presumably are by honey bees as well. Excessive levels of sodium, sodium chloride, and calcium have been shown to be toxic to honey bees. Again, all the required minerals can be obtained from pollen, although nectar also contains minerals. Dark honey contains higher levels of minerals...(Jointly published in the American Bee Journal and in Bee Culture, August 2010)
    An article found reprinted right here on Beesource, Honey Bee Nutrition and Supplemental Feeding also agrees with this:

    Honey bees require proteins (amino acids), carbohydrates (sugars), lipids (fatty acids, sterols), vitamins, minerals (salts), and water, and these nutrients must be in the diet in a definite qualitative and quantitative ratio for optimum nutrition......

    Minerals required in the diet of humans and other vertebrates (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chlorine, phosphorus, iron, copper, iodine, manganese, cobalt, zinc, and nickel) are needed by some species of insects. Pollens contain all these minerals, some of which are required by bees. (L. N. Standifer, 1980)
    The bees could be gobbling down excess salt to the point of danger simply because they like the taste. Honeybees may be a lot more like their keepers than is good for them.

    Wayne

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