Essential Oils

An easily made, inexpensive HBH clone solution for feeding.

I use an old kitchen wand for about a minute on high, directly in the mason jar before adding second half of sugar solution.  If you do not have a dedicated blender or wand…
You can get around the emulsifier for short term handling simply by using a blender on high speed to airate the oils to blend them into solution. DO NOT do this if it’s an expensive blender used for common kitchen duty or if it has a plastic chamber (unless dedicated). These oils will impregnate your equipment! If it’s not glass or stainless for cleaning purposes, you may experience residual flavors. Enough said about that.

Honey Bee Healthy Clone [2016 formula]

5 cup water
2 1/2 pounds sugar (7 1/2 cups)
1/8 teaspoon lecithin granules as emulsifier
20 drops spearmint essence oil
15 drops tea tree essence oil**(Usually only for Fall feeding against Nosema)
7 drops lemongrass essence oil

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
Turn off and add sugar. Do not boil or add more heat
Stir until crystals mix into solution.
Cover, cool, and then add into a clean recycled 2 liter PET bottle, or any equivalent container(s).

Add 1 more cup (8 oz) of warm water [not hot] to a blender with the following:
lecithin granules, spearmint oil, lemongrass oil, and tea tree oil

Blend on low speed for 1 minute or longer if needed making sure the surface tension is broken and the oils are thoroughly emulsified. You will see a color change as the solution emulsifies, turning it a lighter opaque yellow

Add emulsion into the sugar syrup.
Close and shake mixture.

I usually add 1 to 2 tablespoons per gallon of feeding solution, depending on concentration being fed.
1 tblsp/gallon for 1:1,  2 tblsp/gallon for 2:1

**Tea Tree Oil is my own addition and not part of the original WVA study formulation (see below). I use it as a preventative measure against Nosema (Midwest modification).

Store in the refrigerator when not being used.
Lasts up to a couple months depending on your sanitation during production.


Feeding Spearmint oil concentrate, Honey-B-Healthy.
As a direct result of work connected with this grant, we developed a concentrate (Honey-B-Healthy or HBH) of essential oils and natural lecithin emulsifiers to add to sugar syrup; the emulsifiers allow even dispersal of the essential oils throughout the syrup. Many forms of lecithin were tried in order to find the most effective emulsifier; many methods for mixing the concentrate were tried until a good formula was found. The primary developers of HBH were Bob Noel, Atilla Kovacs and Tony Delia. It is made with lecithin, sodium lauryl sulfate, water, lemongrass oil, and spearmint oil. Two teaspoonfuls in a quart of 1:1 sugar syrup delivers a total of one cc of both essential oils (0.5 cc each); the essential oils are evenly distributed throughout the syrup. It took three years to develop this recipe for Honey-B-Healthy, which is sold to beekeepers throughout the eastern US. Careful quality control insures that every batch has the same quantities of essential oils and the same dispersal properties, while keeping the product at a reasonable cost.

We use HBH in early spring, fall and during periods when no nectar is available. HBH produces rapid buildup of bees and, in our opinion, helps to reduce pathogens. However, it does not kill adult mites. But, despite large numbers of mites on HBH-treated hives, there have been no deformed bees and no bee parasitic mite syndrome (BPMS). Control colonies with the same number of mites have many deformed bees, severely affected brood frames and BPMS. We believe that the spearmint oil, lemongrass oil or combination, inhibits development of viruses in the bees. It prevents mold and fungus build-up in 1:1 syrup solutions which can last for two or more years. We have observed that essential oil-laced larval food appears to disrupt the growth, reproduction, and mating of Varroa mites. We believe that others interpret this disruption in Varroa mite development as a false sign of mite resistance in honey bees. The essential oils in the syrup do not kill adult mites in the cells as does wintergreen and/or menthol in paper towels that kill or dislodge mites on adult bees. The action of the oils in the brood cells of the honey bee has yet to be determined. Similar observations by other researchers and beekeepers around the world may also be due to essential oil components collected by bees in pollen, propolis, and nectar. Due to variability in nectar flows and natural essential oils not being uniform, this observation is not always observed and may be difficult to repeat in field trials in the changeable, complex environments in which the honey bees live.

Comments are closed.