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 all natural. 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.
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. 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 right 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.
Water Source/Sugar: 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 from a well. Spring water will keep the minerals while distilled water does not.
Sugar: Make sure when making the sugar water mixture that you do not boil the water with the sugar in it. If the water is boiling, chances are that you have burnt your sugar- this alone can cause Nosema. It is also very important to ONLY buy pure cane sugar. It must say it on the sugar packages.
Salt: Add 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt to every 8 cups of water. This will add minerals and help adjust the pH.
Tea Tree Oil:
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.
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.
Fumagilin (Not natural, chemical solution to Nosema, BANNED in other countries): Read this article, Do your research! Not only does this affect the bees, but it stays in the comb and effects the bees for many generations.
Apple Cider Vinegar: After the sugar is dissolved, add 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for every 8 cups of water 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.
1 gallon = 16 cups