From 1995 until 2000, Amrine & Noel (2001) tested several
essential oils in diluted honey and sugar syrup as feeding additives to honey
bees, in order to attempt to control varroa mites, tracheal mites and to reverse
the parasitic mite syndrome (PMS) seen in colonies infested with varroa mites.
We found that several essential oils improved the health of the honey bee and
reversed the symptoms of PMS. Especially useful were wintergreen, spearmint,
patchouli, penny royal, tea tree and melaleuca oils. We decided to use oils and
materials listed by the EPA that could be used for pest control activity, but
which would not require registration as an acaricide and would be exempt from
FIFRA (EPA 1994, EPA 1996).
We soon found that essential oils applied to sugar syrups did not mix with the aqueous solutions, so Bob Noel began looking for natural emulsifiers to allow uniform mixing of our selected essential oils in the syrups fed to honey bees. He found that lecithin was a good natural emulsifier. Following two years of field treatments of essential oils to honey bee hives with PMS, we observed that spearmint oil was excellent in reducing the PMS. However, honey bees did not accept the emulsified spearmint oil in 1:1 sugar syrup as well as other essential oils. So, we searched for an additive that would make the spearmint syrup attractive to honey bees. Lemongrass oil proved to be the key. The combination of these two oils with lecithin is the mixture that we now call Honey-B-Healthy®, and it has proved to be very effective at improving the health of the honey bee as well as having several other attributes.
Using Honey B Healthy® to feed and/or treat honey bees -
We apply the stronger HBH to the brood nests of colonies
when Bee-Go® is used for the honey harvest. Again, the HBH helps to reduce queen
Honey-B-Healthy is available from several honey bee supply houses, and from many dealers in North America. Please visit www.rnoel.50megs.com/john/index.html for a list of sources, and for more information on Honey-B-Healthy and to view images of the development this useful product.
Amrine, J. W. Jr., Noel, R. 2001. Controlling Honey Bee Mites with Essential Oils. Final Report to SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension, USDA), Project Number 98LNE98-105 (USDA 98-COOP-1-5985), 28 Dec 2001. 11pp.
EPA. 1994. (Environmental Protection Agency.) Inert ingredients in Pesticide Products; list of minimal risk inerts. Federal Register, Weds., Sep 28, 1994, Vol. 59, No. 187: 49400-49401. “Inert ingredients include acetic acid, beeswax, cinnamon, cloves, food, hydrogenated vegetable oil, linseed oil, mineral oil, olive oil, parafin wax, safflower oil, wintergreen oil, vanillin, xanthan gum, and many others, are of minimal risk” (and are also exempt from FIFRA, see EPA 1996).
EPA. 1996. (Environmental Protection Agency.) Exemption of certain pesticide substances from Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Requirements. Federal Register, Weds., Mar. 6, 1996, Vol. 61, No. 45: 8876-8879. “Cinnamon oil, citronella oil, lemongrass oil, mint and mint oil [eg., Patchouli oil], peppermint oil, and many others, are exempt from FIFRA.”