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  1. #1
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    Sep 2010
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    Default essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    I've heard about feeding hives with syrup with essential oils added to it -- does anyone have a recipe for this? It sounds like it might be really helpful vs. varroa -- would anyone talk about their experience with using the stuff?

    I'm interested in keeping my hives healthy without using poisons. I noticed this past September that my hives had contracted varroa, and so I panicked and put formic acid pads on them. This seems to have helped, but in future I'd much rather use a natural cure like essential oils than a harsh acid.
    I found some recipes for grease patties that contain essential oils, but not the proportions for the feeder syrup with essential oils added.

  2. #2
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    The problem with essential oils is you upset the microbial balance (necessary not only to digest pollen but to displace pathogens) and you upset the pheromones in the hive (some of the essential oils are almost a perfect match for some of the pheromones in the hive.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Apr 2010
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    Columbia, Goochland, VA
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    I don't know if it works or not and it was something I wanted to try this summer as I have only a few right now. SO I did a lot of digging on this site and found this recipe: (one is a spray applied to all the frames (the first one) and the other is a feed for a feeder)

    Liquid Feed – Sprayer (or feed)
    3 Gallons of Water
    20 lbs of Sugar
    (1.5 droppers of thyme oil) – Optional for use with mite control misting or as treatment/feed
    3 droppers of lemongrass oil
    3 droppers of spearmint oil
    5 teaspoons of Soy Lecithin Granules

    In a 5 gallon bucket pour in one gallon of very hot water (not boiling). Mix in 5 teaspoons of Lecithin granules. With a mud mixer or similar mixer, mix in the granules for a couple of seconds. Add your lemongrass and spearmint oil to the mix and run the mixer again. Next, add two gallons of tap water. Mix again. Next, start adding your bags of sugar. Add a couple of bags and mix then add more. If you try and add too much at once it can burn out your mixer. Keep mixing until all the sugar is mixed well into the solution. You should have about 4- 4.5 gallons of feed ready to go.
    (For mite control misting) Get a garden sprayer. Use one that has not been used before as you do not want chemicals in your feed. I label the one I use “Bee Feed” so it doesn’t get confused with anything. Pour in your mix and pressure up your sprayer. I use the fine mist setting. This allows you to mist a frame in one or at most two sweeps and doesn’t soak the frame or bees but gives it a nice even complete coating. Place into your hive and move to the next frame.
    Lastly, I run two of these feeds with thyme and then just run them with lemongrass and spearmint. Towards the end of Nov. I will feed one more time with thyme. No special reason that I do this but experimenting around I found this works best for the bees. My mite counts since starting this method have been very low to zero.
    Alternate Liquid Feed (makes up a smaller batch)
    2qts. of water
    2qts. of sugar
    12 drops of thyme oil
    28 drops of lemongrass oil
    28 drops of spearmint oil
    3 teaspoons of lecithin granules

    For the best prices on Lecithin go to Puritan's Pride
    For Spearmint and Thyme Glorybee foods
    For the lemon grass oil 100%pureessentialoils.com (you may find that with shipping you may want to combine this with one of the others I ordered other things for my wife to make it work while to order from all)

    Hope this helps

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    paradise,Texas,USA
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    116

    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    Allanbham, I too am looking to use oils and have researched till the world looks level. So many oils and options!!! I stay confused on which works for what and when, some things you can use with honey stores some not. Micheal could you tell us what oils or methods that work for you and when to use them or if you use them. I also need to put together a game plan for this coming year, something simple and effective.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Seneca, sc
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    830

    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    If you want to keep treatment free bees, just don't treat. I have read all of the threads about, the definition of treatment free bees. My definition is chemicals, are anything that beekeepers did not put in the hive 30 years ago. Let me list a few, they used, wood (frames and boxes), foundation (that could have chemicals in the wax, and 30 years ago probably had DDT), and sugar (dry or syrup), pollen substitutes made with natural ingredients (soy, yeast, sugar). If you decide, to do this you need to prepared to accept 50 to 70 percent loses the first couple of years depending on where your original stock comes from. Bees can be kept this way, no matter what some think. You might not make 200 lbs of honey the first few years and maybe never in your location. If you are in a state that the average per hive has been 50 lbs or less per year for the last fifty years, you can dump every chemical in a hive made and you still want get 200 lbs of honey average per hive. I just don't treat except with the things above. I do manage my hives for increase but 99 out of a hundred times I leave the hive that I am splitting queenright. There is not an intended brood break. I do raise my own queens. I have not bought any bees for four years. The above is just my opinion not trying to start a discussion on whether, to treat or not to treat. I do have less than a hundred hives, at most times of the year. Some would say that if I had more hives that I would not be able to keep bees the way I do. Ok, if that is the case, anybody with more than a hundred hives, don't try this at home. We all choose to do things differently in life, that is what makes this country the great place it is to live.This is a great site that I enjoy very much. I hope with this post I have made friends and not enemies.

  6. #6
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    Sep 2010
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    paradise,Texas,USA
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    116

    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    papamoose, does this get both mites and beetles? How often do you plan on using it if it works? I wonder if a person can use this bi-weekly as a preventative? Thanks for your post!!!!!

  7. #7
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    Apr 2010
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    Columbia, Goochland, VA
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    As stated earlier, essential oils can mess with pheromones in the hive so I would not do it very frequently, I plan on having a test hive. The general timing I go from what I read on application is this,

    After the flow, use the sprayer feed on the hole hive spraying each frame.

    Then around Oct. or Nov. do the feed method, 1 or two times so they feed on it all winter.

    I don't know if this will work on beetles, it was recommended for mites.

    For beetles I found this non-chemical method that many have stated they have had good success with. I left the contributors names in place so they may have the credit they deserve for it.

    The men whose method is posted on Beeworks are Sonny Chidister and Mel McConnell. They make a lure like one would use to lure wax moths and put it in a sandwich container with a top on it. The container has the lure in a bottle top and sits in the sandwich container which has FGMO on the bottom of the container to trap the beetles. There are small holes poked in the sides of the sandwich holder to allow the beetle access( I used a 5/32 bit will see how it works or if I need to go smaller), but too small to allow the bee.

    The recipe for the lure is 1 cup water, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar and a ripe banana peel, cut up in small pieces.

    I mixed the apple vinegar, sugar and water. Then I took my very sharp knife and cut the banana peel into tiny pieces. I added that to the mixture and poured the whole mess into a pint jar. Sonny just emailed me and told me to put the jar outside for a day in the sun and it will be ready to use.


    This represents hours of digging through old threads and posts, so please make the best of it, and pass the word along if you have success with it. The more chemicals we can eliminate from the environment the better our ladies will do.

    Good luckhttp://www.beesource.com/forums/images/smilies/biggrin.gif

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    SOMERSET, ENGLAND
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    335

  9. #9
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    Aug 2002
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    Evansville, IN, USA
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    >I'm interested in keeping my hives healthy without using poisons . . .

    Use the powdered sugar method of Varroa control.
    True "control" begins with constant monitoring.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2008
    Location
    Quapaw OK USA
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    262

    Reminder Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    The only thing use is grease patty and I don't have any mite problem. I am starting my 5th yr of keeping ang I have 15 hives now. Equal parts sugar and veg grease. I use crisco.I make a patty about 5in about1/4 in thick and put it o top of the frames.It last about 3 months then I put another patty on.

  11. #11
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    Sep 2010
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    Dekalb, Georgia, USA
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    Thank you everyone for all the info, recipes, and opinions.
    Michael, you mentioned that some oils are just like the bees' pheromones and can disrupt the hive. Can you direct me to more information on this? I'd like to know more about which oils are more likely to cause this problem.
    I'm about to make a grease patty with wintergreen oil for my two hives. After tomorrow's cold snap I will try some feeder with essential oil.

  12. #12
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    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    Michael Bush,

    Are you referring to Lemon Grass Oil? Is there any other EO's that reflect a similar chemical pattern to the bee pheromones of the hive?

    Adam

  13. #13
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    Jul 2010
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    Orange, Virginia, USA
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    382

    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    Well my use of EO is somewhat different than most.

    I will have to say mixing a very small amount in the 2:1 in the fall made a world of difference, the bees were taking in about 3 gallons per hive per week.

    What I do different and increasing this year is planting the actual plants that produce EO since they are a natural source of pollen and bloom throughout the spring, summer and fall.

    Lavander, Lemon Grass, Lemon Balm, Mints and more. I planted a lot this year and asked the gardener to plant it at my clients.

    I personally saw very little varroa and shb in my hives. I did not see any that needed treatment in my opinion however I did give the top bars a sprinkly of powdered sugar.

    We know that the mites do not like the EO.

    If you use HBH it is pretty much the same as using most of the EO mixtures for addition to the feed.

  14. #14
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    Clifford Township, PA
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenbham View Post
    ...... and so I panicked and put formic acid pads on them. This seems to have helped, but in future I'd much rather use a natural cure like essential oils than a harsh acid.
    Perception is a funny thing. Formic acid concentrated in a pad is not natural yet various essential oils, extracted from plants into concentrations never seen in nature, are natural? I believe if you are open to essential oils, you needn't feeel guilty about applying formic, a naturally occuring substance.

    That said, I've used EOs in syrup as a spring and fall tool in the fight against varroa, along with powdered sugar dustings and this past year mite counts were so low, I didn't even think about using formic acid. I used the recipe posted often on these forums by Alpha6, who successfully uses a thymol-based concoction on his many hives. While Alpha6 graciously reposts his recipe and offers comments on his experiences almost every time this very common question arises, you would do yourself a favor by searching the threads for thymol and syrup and alpha6.

    Wayne

  15. #15
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    >Are you referring to Lemon Grass Oil?

    Yes. It simulates Nasonov and makes great swarm lure.

    > Is there any other EO's that reflect a similar chemical pattern to the bee pheromones of the hive?

    I don't know. I never really had an interest in other ones, but almond extract will run them out of a super...

    >Perception is a funny thing. Formic acid concentrated in a pad is not natural yet various essential oils, extracted from plants into concentrations never seen in nature, are natural? I believe if you are open to essential oils, you needn't feeel guilty about applying formic, a naturally occuring substance.

    But both will kill the microbes off... leaving the bees with no way to ferment their pollen and no natural microbes to displace the pathogens.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
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    Feb 2009
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    Prairie Co, Ark
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    Does this bit about killing the microbes off pertain to oxalic acid vapors also?

  17. #17

    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    many people have been using EO for years and do not have issues with proper fermentation of pollen. The statement that EO will stop it is incorrect as there is a constant supply of yeasts coming in to the hives all the time.

    People talk about natural beekeeping but as soon as we started taking them out of trees and putting them in to any kind of box or on any kind of comb in that box we stopped natural beekeeping.

    IF you are going to manage bees with todays pressures you need to help them live and thrive like any other livestock.

    I have seen beekeepers wiped out following the no treat no feed advice. Part of me does not mind it as they come to me to buy pail after pail after pail of honey becuase theirs did not produce anything and part of me gets pissed because they follow this and loose their bees do to neglect.

    Just my opinion based on working bees and not sitting on a computer all day.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    Quote Originally Posted by rainesridgefarm View Post
    many people have been using EO for years and do not have issues with proper fermentation of pollen.
    ...since no one can currently give a reasonably detailed description of proper pollen fermentation, this claim seems unfounded.

    The statement that EO will stop it is incorrect as there is a constant supply of yeasts coming in to the hives all the time.
    there are over 10,000 different strains of microbes involved in the microbial culture of the hive...yeasts, bacteria, fungi....

    we know of a fungi responsible for producing 24 methelene cholestol (a sterol that the bees need to raise brood) that works in the first few hours of pollen fermentation before the pollen becomes very acidic.

    we know of novel (not found anywhere else on the planet) bacterial species that live in the honey stomach, are involved in honey production, and diseases resistance.

    there is too much going on to simply state that eo's don't interfere with pollen fermentation...thymol is a powerful fungicide....originally used by beekeepers to prevent fungi from growing in sugar syrup.

    deknow

  19. #19
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    >Does this bit about killing the microbes off pertain to oxalic acid vapors also?

    Yes.

    >The statement that EO will stop it is incorrect as there is a constant supply of yeasts coming in to the hives all the time.

    We aren't talking about merely any yeast, nor only yeast. We are talking about a whole spectrum of very specialized bacteria and yeasts that a hive needs to be healthy and that need to be there to crowds out that steady supply of other bacteria and yeasts that are NOT the ones that need to be there.
    Last edited by Michael Bush; 02-01-2011 at 08:44 PM. Reason: spelling
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
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    chilliwack, bc
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    Default Re: essential oils vs varroa: does it work? syrup recipe?

    There was research done a WVU,

    http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/varroa/varroa2.htm

    In here it talks about the use of tea tree, patcholi, and wintergreen. It is fed in a 1 liter jar and also the use of tracking strips and extender patties. very intresting read. check it out.
    Will Gruenwald Chilliwack BC

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