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, is easier than putting together all these ingredients, is safe, and works very well.
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.
After reading through this recipe post, take a minute to check out our other beekeeping posts here and beekeeping videos here.
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 ½ pounds of sugar
> ⅛ 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.
Cass says: "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.
Read more of our beekeeping posts here and watch beekeeping videos here. Thx!
Yes, this is a great recipe. Have used citronella and spearmint with liquid sucrose to top up food stores and keep the girls happy during the cold winter. Works very nicely.
Great piece of information. My question would be what do you consider "food grade" essential oils as opposed to "aromatherapy" oils. All essential oils should be "food grade", although not a common practice in the USA to take them orally. To that fact, a true certified aromatherapist would have your best, unadulterated, oils available, as opposed to those found in health food stores or from MLM companies. Just wondering where you came up with that thought? Thanks!
Eric Gunnar Rochow
most aromatherapy oils one finds in the stores say
"Not for internal use"
and contain methyl something or other, which I'm not going to give to my bees. its easy enough to order food grade essential oils.
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gıve tıme hıve ın the şyrup stolen to be .........For spearmınt oıl thank
you nıce days .....To ask.
I have a hive that has been in my family for yrs but was never set up for use I have wax for them as well
My question is this wax is over 20 years old and still in the box should I use it or get new ?
Just trying to learn.
Is it possible you could put your recipes in kg i don't know how big a cup is? 🙂
Eric, i read a blog yesterday where this person was really into her oils and she stated that to keep from having to buy very expensive insurance for consumables that most these manufactures to keep cost down and profits up just put the not to be taken internally statement and it is just an aroma then. But she said that if you did your searching you would no which ones you can consume. Kind of went in a circle but it does make sence.
There are several websites that have this recipe listed but do not dilute it. It is used straight (full strength). I don't know which is appropriate. If it works diluted, then use it that way.
However, if your goal is 2cc per quart of final solution, as seems to be suggested above:
"Two teaspoonfuls in a quart of 1:1 sugar syrup delivers a total of one cc of both essential oils."
please consider the following:
The listed yield of the above recipe is 2 quarts.
The amount of Essential oil used (30 drops total) is about 2cc.
The original recipe contains about 1cc TOTAL per quart.
There will NOT be 1cc per quart of EO in the final mixture.
There are 192 tsp in a quart.
Therefore, 2 tsp of this recipe will contain 0.01cc of EO.
One 100th of a cc per quart.
thx steve, since originally using this recipe, i now buy the pre-made product from Mann Lake beekeeping supplies called Pro Health, its one less thing I have to do when prepping for the season. I keep the concentrate they sell in the fridge.
Learned this from YouTube. If you put your oils and water in a blender, for 5 min. And blend, you don't need the emulsifier. It will hold the mix intact. Check it out. I've tried it, it works!
If kept in the refrigerator, how long will the essential oil recipe be good for?