Essential Oils for Beekeeping

Essential Oils

There are three primary essential oils that are useful in beekeeping: lemongrass, spearmint and thyme. Wintergreen, spearmint, oregano and tea tree oil are also used.

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.

The mint family of essential oils also assist in treating the varroa mite in the same manner as thyme oil. They also mask other scents while not mimicking any of the honeybees own pheromones.

Lemongrass oil appears to be the most versatile of the essential oils used with honeybees. It is used as a treatment in the hive, a supplement for nutritional balance and as bait in swarm traps. This essential oil has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. It also mimics the attractant pheromone of the honeybee. This property requires careful use with weak hives. The scent may lure robber bees to the hive and the weak colony is unable to defend itself.

Oregano oil is also good for anti-fungal and anti-viral uses.

Delivery Method

Essential oils can be delivered in several ways.

  • Semi-solid patties may be mixed and placed on the top of the frames above the brood.
  • Use a spray mixture with a low sugar mixture
  • High concentrated sugar syrup in feeders