A natural and responsible approach to beekeeping means understanding the natural life of the bees and encouraging the bees in their natural independence. The largest health risks to bees are Varroa Mites, parasites and disease. Below are some natural solutions and treatments you can follow.
Varroa destructor is an external parasitic mite which attacks the honey bees Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. The disease caused by the mites is called varrosis. The Varroa mite can only reproduce in a honey bee colony
Mix 5-8 drops of Thyme oil in 16 ounces of mineral oil, shake it up and squirt it on a paper towel making a double SS. Put it in the hive on top of the frames up until 3 weeks before the honey flow and anytime after the honey flow.
Mix 1 Tablespoon of garlic powder with 1 cup of water in a blender on low speed for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the cup of blended mixture to a gallon of sugar water, mix by shaking, and feed it to the bees in early spring up till 3 weeks before the honey flow. Can be used again in the fall after the honey flow.
Put 4 ounces of granulated sugar per deep hive box into a blender on low speed in order to make your own powdered sugar. The powdered sugar that you buy in the stores contains corn starch which the bees cannot digest. Place the 4 ounces of homemade powdered sugar into a baggie. Use one 4 oz. baggie to a deep box and 3 ounces per medium box. The next time that you are in your bee yard, dump the sugar onto the top of the frames. Use a new paint brush (must be a foam type) to brush the powder off of the frames onto the bees early in the morning or late in the evening 4 times at 10 days apart starting in late August and continuing into September. Best to have screen bottom boards for this, if not, place cardboard in the bottom before dusting and then afterwards remove it.
Use 20-25 drops of Thyme oil in 16 ounces of mineral oil if you use a fogger for mite control. Walk by the landing board and put the fogger into each hive for 8 to 10 seconds and then move on to the next hive.
Small Hive Beetle
Small Hive Beetles can be a destructive pest of the honey bee, causing damage to comb, honey and pollen. If a beetle infestation is sufficiently heavy it may cause the bees to abandon their hive. The treatments listed below are an effective natural remedy.
Mix 10-12 drops of eucalyptus oil with 1 cup of Crisco shortening. Stir in iAto 3/4 cup of sugar and make into a small patty. Place patty on a piece of wax paper and place on top of the frames. (use latex or rubber gloves anytime when working with eucalyptus oil.)
Dust diatomaceous earth on the ground around your hive instead of using Guard Star. Be sure and make a 8-10 foot radius around the hive, watering it into the ground or apply before a rain.
Use old cortex boards (corrugated plastic yard signs) for traps by cutting them into 3x4 inch rectangles and Boric Acid. Hold 6 of the cortex boards lined up together, looking down into the tubes of the corrugation, and cover the open end with Crisco. Turn over and then spoon 1/8 to 1/4 inch, 2 teaspoons full, of the Boric Acid into the other end and seal with the Crisco shortening. Place into hive on the bottom board, securing it with staples 14 to 3/4 inches from the back of the bottom board.
When using the West SHB traps, or other traps of this type, place 1/8 to 3/8 inches of hydrated lime into a clean, dry tray. Place the grill on top and put into the hive as if you had oil in it. This method is better than using vegetable oil since oil tends to run out or to settle in low spots leaving other spots dry for the small hive beetle to hide. Lime has a higher kill ratio than oil.
Tray traps available from www.basprings.com are used under a screen bottom board. I think that this is the best way to trap SHB from the bottom. This type of trap should be put on for about 25 days in the early spring and then removed.
SHB Frame Traps
1. Use the same corrugated plastic sheets and cut them 1 3/8" x 2 7/8" long with the tubes running lengthwise. Seal six of them off with Crisco on one of the open ends, flip over and add one teaspoon of Boric Acid and seal with Crisco.Staple one on top of the frame with the length running parallel with the frame just past the shoulder of the end bar, towards the center of the top of the frame. Place another one on top of the number one frame at the front and one on top of the number 8 or number 10 frame at the back opposite side of the hive to trap the SHB. Reverse the placement on the next box. This will ensure that the hive will be covered all the way up. These types of traps last 2 - 3 months and should be replaced depending upon the infestation.
2. For immediate relief, the Better Beetle Blaster is the best way to go. We use hydrated lime 1/4 to 3/8 inch deep. Every three weeks take out and tap upside down to remove the spent lime. The dead beetles and lime dust will fall out. Refill and install back into the hive.
Nosemosis, or Nosema disease, is a disease caused by two species of microsporidian parasites (a type of fungus). Infection of adult bees at a young age can cause the bee to have difficulty digesting food for the rest of its life.
1. Mix 1 teaspoon of Tea Tree Oil with 1/2 cup of water. Put into a blender and blend on low speed for 4 - 5 minutes. Put the mixture into a l gallon jar of water and shake it up. Then pour 1 cup of the aforementioned mixture into a gallon of sugar water and feed this mixture to the bees for a month.
Chalkbrood disease is caused by the fungus Ascosphaera apis. While the fungus does not kill the colonies it can weaken them and lead to reduced honey yields making them susceptible to bee pests and diseases.
1. Same as above but use 2 teaspoons instead of 1 teaspoon
• Sugar water is a 1 to 1 ratio in the spring
• 1 drop of tea tree oil and 2 parts sugar to 1 part water in the fall.
• 4 drops of lemongrass oil 1/4 cup water
• Mix all ingredients in a blender on low for 4 - 5 minutes and add this mixture to 1 gallon of sugar water and feed to the bees in the spring.
Note: All Essential Oils must be pharmaceutical grade!! Some essential oils are for perfume and aromatherapy purposes only and should not be used for this purpose.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) must be of food grade (C Grade). Caution must be used since it is an eye and lung irritant. Lime dust may also be an eye, skin and lung irritant.
NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE TO YOUR COLONIES WHEN USING THESE TREATMENTS SINCE WE HAVE NO CONTROL OVER APPLICATION OF TREATMENTS.