To Treat... or not to Treat?
If you ever wanted to get into a heated debate with a beekeeper, ask them if they 'treat' their bees and what treatment method they use and why! :) Beekeepers treat their bees for many different reasons. Some could be for diseases, sickness, or the most common, for pests. I've created this page as an alternative method of using chemicals in hives for treatment. I strive to be all natural, and all organic as much as I can be, and so far it's worked out for us to be completely chemical free!! Please know that every beekeeper has his/her method that works for 'their' bees. This site has been put together in order to help those that strive to be 100% organic and chemical free. I will be adding to this page periodically and if you have any recommendations for natural treatment that works for your bees, PLEASE let me know! The following is a summary of all that I have read and have learned about throughout my years of beekeeping. Please consider my treatments but as always, do your own research, the information below is to help guide you into a non-chemical treatment plan.
Essentials Oils (EO) How To:
When mixing essential oils in sugar water, it's important to follow the steps below:
1) Where you are getting the water from can play a huge role. It is recommended to use spring water instead of water from the city or county. Spring water will keep the minerals while distilled water does not. Mix your sugar with your water first. Heat water up, add sugar, and make sure to not bring it to a boil when the sugar is in there. This will burn the sugar and could cause nosema. Remember, it's very important to ONLY buy pure cane sugar. It should say it on the sugar package. When measuring, leave out 1 cup of water, this will be used to mix in the Essential Oils.
2) While the Sugar water is cooling, pour 1 cup of water into a blender and add your Essentials oils to the water (be sure the water is not hot). Blend on low speed for 4 - 5 minutes in order to emulsify. Pour into the sugar water and mix for a few more minutes.
3) Store in the fridge when not in use
4) Feed bees solutions for 30 days.
Mixing Sugar syrup:
You can measure by weight or volume it does not matter, the difference is so small that it doesn't matter. I use volume as it is easier for me to measure out by using the same measure cup/bowl/etc. If you are making large batch, know you don't need a measuring cup, you can simply use two bowls that hold the same volume.
First number is Sugar:
1:1 to encourage brood rearing.
2:1 Is used in the fall to encourage storage of food for winter.
Propolis: Say what? Yes! Propolis (a product that bees already produce) is very important in a hive. This is the bees natural medicine! Where you can, try to leave as much as you can for the bees. Create cracks or buy a propolis collector sheet to put in the hive and give the bees a space to store the propolis. In nature, trees have many cracks and the bees will fill it with propolis, not only giving them a sealed void, but a void that has medicine whenever they need it. This is not a treatment plan, but more of a preventative plan.
1 gallon = 16 cups
3 teaspoon= 1 tablespoon
Nosema is very similar to what humans call diarrhea. There are many ways to treat this and even antibiotics (Fumagilin) that you can give to your bees to help them. As I don't give myself antibiotics whenever I have diarrhea, I'm not going to give the bees antibiotics whenever they have it. (Honestly, a side effect of antibiotics is diarrhea anyways). The two most common reasons that bees will get Nosema is either from their water source or from being in a stressful environment. Sometimes this can happen right after you do a split or when you add your sugar water. You will begin to see streaks on the outside of hive, usually right above the entrance. It's important to catch this early. You can easily see it coming on from simply looking at the hive from a distance. To the left is Nosema in the early stages. Only a few bees have been affected. It can get much worse. Natural Treatment can be provided by using the following: checking the water source, salt, apple cider vinegar, and/or tea tree oil.
Salt: Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt to every 1 gallon water. This will add minerals and help adjust the pH.
Tea Tree Oil: Add 1 teaspoon of Tea Tree Oil for every gallon of sugar solution
Apple Cider Vinegar: After the sugar is dissolved, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for every 1 gallon of sugar syrup. This helps to prevent the syrup from freezing, turning the sugar water pH from a 'base" to a more "acidic" pH solution (honey is more acidic than basic). Next, add minerals to the solution. This will help with mold control and Nosema.)
Fumagilin (Not natural, chemical solution to Nosema, BANNED in other countries): Do your research! Not only does this affect the bees, but it stays in the comb and effects the bees for many generations.
Lemongrass/Spearmint Oil: These oils will help attract bees to sugar water. Make sure the oils are pure and do not have any additional additives. If only using lemongrass, add 24 drops of lemongrass essential oil to 8 cups of water. Lemongrass oil is also anti-fungal, which will help prevent mold. If you want to, you can also use a combination of half lemongrass oil and half spearmint oil.