Beekeepers use essential oils in a variety of ways. They can be added to a syrup, added to patties, or administered in a spray, and can even be used instead of smoking. Remember that essential oils are strong and beekeepers generally use them as an ingredient in something instead of by themselves. There are many useful recipes on the internet.
Common oils used by Beekeepers
Lemongrass oil is the most versatile of the essential oils used with honeybees. Lemongrass mimics the honeybee pheromone that attracts other bees, which makes it great for use as bait in swarm traps, but you will want to be careful using it around weak hives as it may attract robber bees. It is used as a treatment in the hive due to it’s antiviral and antifungal properties, these properties can also help keep food from going bad. Lemongrass can also be used as a supplement for nutritional balance and to stimulate the bees to eat food.
Used in preparations to control varroa mites.
Tea Tree oil is often used in grease patties for controling mites.
Spearmint oil is often used in conjunction with Lemongrass oil during feeding to improve hive health and work as a recruiting scent. Spearmint oil and Lemongrass oil are commonly used together to complete many tasks with bees, including avoiding the reliance on smoke when opening hives. The mint family of essential oils also assist in treating the varroa mite in the same manner as thyme oil. They can mask other scents while not mimicking any of the honeybee’s own pheromones.
Used for control of Tracheal mites.
Wintergreen oil is often used in grease patties for controling mites. It also helps with Small Hive Beetles.
Peppermint oil is used as a general-purpose pheromone masking scent. It does not seem to mimic any known bee pheromones and is simply used to mask others.
Thyme oil and Thymol crystals
The active ingredient in thyme oil is thymol. This compound assists in controlling the Varroa mite. It works by confusing the mite and blocking it’s pores. Used in combination with a screened bottom board the mites become confused, fall to the ground through the screen and are unable to climb back up into the hive. It is also used for treatment or prevention of Chalkbrood.
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