Bee Health – a herbal approach

The BeeHolder, Summer 2013

A Bee-keeper carried out a trial over 2009/10 and his hives not only survived one of the worst winters that we have ever had, but the brood increased by 30%. HOW?

There were very few varroa mites at the time of the brood. WHY?

These results have continued.

  1. All hives were kept clean and free from chemical insecticides. It is thought that over time, the insecticides impregnate the fabric of the hive and are the serious cause of colony collapse (Ohio, USA Bee-keepers). So new frames, or frames free from contamination are needed.
  2. A winter feed of 5 grams of garlic to 1 kilo of sugar in solution was given until the new brood started. Garlic was then discontinued during honey production. However replacing garlic with an infusion of nettles to the last feed increased the brood by 40%. As many humans use garlic to boost their immunity to disease. Does it also do this in bees? Nettles contain trace elements, maybe these increase fertility? Garlic is also known to kill and/or cause the varroa mite to leave the bees.
  3. The colonies were large, at least 1 1/2 times the brood. This ensured enough warmth & ample workers in winter for food gathering.
  4. The garlic controlled the varroa mite in the winter and icing sugar dusting controlled the mite in spring and summer.
  5. You will also need nectar and pollen rich flowers. Please plant them. This system is cheap, organic and it works!

So could garlic, or any alium spp, alter the odour balance inside the hive to the detriment of the varroa mite? If so, would it not upset the bees’ pheromone communication?

At worst it seems harmless, and proprietary feeds contain supplements, possibly even nettle extraction. Only proper trials would give a clear result, but it is an interesting thought.

From an article published by Bournemouth and Dorset South Beekeepers
Association & in Ebees via a letter from Margaret Alton BSc of Doncaster

This appears to have done the rounds of various bee keeping magazines, and in the course has perhaps become slightly Chinese whispered, hence the strange sentence construction and poor English. Perhaps somebody out there would like to investigate this further, as the results claimed do look very impressive. Ed