Honey-B-Healthy (HBH) is a feeding stimulant which is added to bee feed as a supplement. It was developed at West Virginia University from research done by J. W. Amrine and R. Noel, Jr., on the use of essential oils (EOs) for controlling honeybee mites. It has been developed into a product for sale, but also(!) I happened across a recipe for it at The Wasatch Beekeepers Association website. The recipe would enable me to customize it a bit, so I decided to buy the essential oils and make my own.
|The recipe calls for 1 cup of water, 1 cup of honey or 1:1 sugar|
syrup, I capful of liquid lecithin, 1/2 ounce each of spearmint,
lemongrass, & lavender essential oils, plus 1 drop hand dish liquid.
The key ingredients to HBH are spearmint or wintergreen essential oil and lemon grass essential oil. Researchers found the spearmint and wintergreen EOs to be especially helpful in treatment of mites, however, the bees themselves didn't care for it. The lemon grass was especially appealing to them, so it became the other standard ingredient for HBH. The lavender essential oil is also offensive to Varroa mites, so it was an easy addition. Because water (in the sugar syrup) and oil don't naturally mix, lecithin and drop of liquid dish detergent are added as emulsifiers.
Dosage is 1 - 2 teaspoons HBH to 1 quart of syrup. In one of his videos, Chris Harvey at The Warré Store recommends 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, with 1 tablespoon HBH per quart for the initial feedings after installation. That brings us to my new feeder (made by Chris) which is said hold up to a gallon of sugar syrup.
|Warré hive top feeder. It is placed on top of the top hive box (more here).|
The bees come up beeways on the sides. Mesh keeps them in the bee area.
If you read the claims for Honey-B-Healthy, you'd think it's really the bee's knees: helps control Varroa mites, helps prevent absconding (which is where the bees, for whatever reason, decide they don't like their new hive and simply leave), faster drawing out of comb, helps prevent rejection of a new queen, helps calm the bees, and helps prevent stinging because the lemongrass essential oil contains some of the same natural pheromones that bees use to attract workers. The only negative is that it promotes robbing because the bees love it so much. The only precaution I could find is that EOs evaporate fairly quickly and so keep them and the HBH tightly covered until time to use.
Bee pickup is today if it isn't rained out, so I will know shortly whether or not HBH lives up to its claims. I'm hoping I won't need to feed for long because things are blooming around here. My honeybees will have missed all the early spring blooming, such as the fruit trees, but things like clover, honeysuckle, and the roses have yet to bloom. Then there will be the gardens. I'm also working on lists of new things to plant because I definitely want happy honeybees.
Results of Research: Using Essential Oils for Honey Bee Mite Control
Essential oils used to control mites in honeybees (list of) WVU
Honey-B-Healthy at West Virginia University
Honey Bee Healthy Recipe at The Wasatch Beekeepers Association
Organic Treatments at Wolf Creek Apiaries
Benefits of HBH and where to buy
And one more, a video using honey as an emulsifier for the EOs.
Next - Hiving Success! (But I Wish I'd Gotten Those Bee Gloves)