This essential oil recipe for honeybees is similar to the several commercial essential oil concentrates you can buy from beekeeping suppliers. These essential oil mixtures are said to have several benefits. They improve the disease resistance of the honeybees, they calm the bees when you are working them, and they can help introduce a new queen to a beehive.
NOTE: I now buy the essential oil mix from a beekeeping supplier here. Its saves time for me, though you may want to make your own!
I keep getting questions about what is an essential oil. An essential oil is the extracted oil of a particular plant. That's it. For some reason, people ask if they can use mineral oil, and no, you can't.
The two main ingredients here, lemongrass oil and spearmint oil are said to reduce the presence of diseases and pathogens in the hive.
You MUST use food grade essential oils for your bees, do NOT buy oil used for aromatherapy, it can contain ingredients toxic to bees.
To buy food grade spearmint essential oil on Amazon click on this link → Spearmint Food Grade Essential Oil. Double check the Amazon listing to make sure the oil is food grade, Amazon's search function isn't perfect.
To buy food grade lemongrass essential oil on Amazon click on this link → Lemongrass Food Grade Essential Oil. Double check the Amazon listing to make sure the oil is food grade, Amazon's search function isn't perfect.
I got this and many other beekeeping recipes for honeybees from Cass, whose blog is WVBeekeeper.
I have tried to contact Cass to ask permission to reprint this recipe but could not, so I'm hoping he's ok with the idea of us all helping honey bees.
Essential Oil Recipe For Honeybees
A well known commercially available general purpose essential oil product for bees that is similar to the following recipe claims many benefits even though many of those claims have yet to be proven. The following recipe should work about as well as that product and is way cheaper. It can be added in small quantities to feed to encourage feeding. It has been known to occasionally cause robbing behavior due to its great appeal to bees.
> 5 cups water
> 2 1/2 pounds of sugar
> 1/8 teaspoon lecithin granules (used as an emulsifier)
> 15 drops spearmint oil
> 15 drops lemongrass oil
Bring the water to a boil and stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved remove the mixture from the heat and quickly add the lecithin and the essential oils. Stir the mixture thoroughly. This solution should have a strong scent and not be left open around bees. Cool before using.
NOTE: i have had difficulty getting the lecithin granules to dissolve in the mixture. I have made this without the lecithin and it seemed to be ok.
Use the Essential Oil Mixture in early spring and during periods when no nectar is available and to build up packages, nucs ind swarms. Two teaspoonfuls in a quart of 1:1 sugar syrup delivers a total of one cc of both essential oils. The essential oils are evenly distributed throughout the syrup. The Essential Oil Mixture helps produce rapid build up of bees when used as a feeding stimulant. In addition, using 4 teaspoons in a quart of one to one sugar water of the Essential Oil Mixture as a spray instead of smoke helps calm the bees, and spraying caged new queens and bees helps with queen acceptance during cage introduction and reduces balling during direct release when sprayed on new queen and bees. It also helps to reduce stings: mix a little on your hands and watch the difference in bee behavior-very few or no stings at all. Acts as a bee calmer when sprayed on the bees and helps prevent fighting when combining nucs, swarms, and colonies. Spray on a colony while doing a cut-out for some extra calm bees! When sprayed on new foundation helps encourage the bees to draw out new comb or plastic comb.
Cass has a number of interesting recipes for beekeeping on his site, please go check them out here.