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Mite Control in Honeybees With Essential Oils
Using Essential Oils for Honey Bee Mite Control (Amrine
Essential Oils and Hive Treatment
The Essential Oils Used to Control Mites in Honey Bees
Collection of References (April, 1997)
Varroa Mite and Tracheal Mite References (Several
This site is administered by Jim Amrine, Entomologist
& Acarologist, West Virginia University, Division of
Plant and Soil Sciences, P. O. Box 6108, West Virginia
University, Morgantown, WV 26505-6108, USA. Telephone:
304-293-6023, Fax: 304-293-2960 , E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Taken from https://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/varroa/oils.htm
Essential oils used to control mites in honey
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Those with * were used in hives from which honey and beeswax were collected; **most used oil: wintergreen. This information is taken mostly from the Merck Index, 10th Edition, 1983. Family names are based on Kertescz 1994.
CATNIP oil, Cataria, catmint. Herb of Napeta cataria L., Lamiaceae. Habit. Europe, Asia; naturalized in U. S. Constit: volatile oil, nepetalacetone (q.v.), nepetalic acid and related compds., tannin: McElvain, Eisenbraun, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 77:1599 (1955). Its odor is very attractive to all members of the cat family. Therapeutic category: aromatic. Contains: Nepatlactone: No. 6314, Merck Index: 5,6,7,7a-tetrahydro-4,7-dimethyl-cyclopental[c]pyran-1-(4aH)-one. C10H10O2; mol. Wt. 166.21. Isolated from the volatile oil of catnip produced by Nepeta cataria L, Lamiaceae: S. M. McElvain et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 63:1558 (1941). Mixture of sis-trans and trans-cis isomers, the cis-trans isomer comprising 70-99%.
CINNAMON OIL : Oil of cassia; oil of Chinese cinnamon. Volatile oil from leaves and twigs of Cinnamomum cassia (Nees) Nees & Eberm. ex Blume, Lauraceae. Contains: 80-90% cinnamaldehyde (#2271); cinnamyl acetate, eugenol (#3846). Yellowish or brownish liquid. Darkens and thickens on exposure to air. d25/25: 1.045-1.063. a25/D: -1° to 1°. n20/D: 1.6020-1.6060. Slightly soluble in water; soluble in an equal vol of alcohol and glacial acetic acid. Keep well closed, cool and protected from light. Use: as flavor in foods and in perfumes. Therapeutic category: carminative.
CINNAMON OIL, Ceylon : volatile oil from bark of Ceylon cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume, Lauraceae. Contains: 50-65% cinnamaldehyde; 4-8% eugenol; phellandrene. Light yellow liq.; gradually becomes reddish; characteristic odor, d. 1.000-1.030; aD: 0° to -2°. n20/D: 1.565-1.582. Therapeutic category: carminative.
Citronella Oil: Volatile oil from fresh grass of Cymbopogon nardus (L.) Rendle, Poaceae, Citronella Grass. Contains: (Sri Lanka) about 60% geraniol (#4263), 15% citronellal, 10-15% camphene (#1708) and dipentene (inactive limonene, dl form) (#5321) , small amounts of linalool (#5325) and borneol (#1322); (Java) 25-50% citronellal, 25-45% geraniol. Almost colorless to pale yellow liq; gradually becomes reddish; pleasant odor. d Ceylon, 0.897-0.912; Java, 0.885-0.90. a20D: Ceylon, -6° to -14°; Java, -2° to -5°. n20/D: Ceylon, 1.479-1.485; Java, 1.468-1.473. Slightly soluble in water; soluble in 10 vols 80% alcohol. Keep well closed, cool and protected from light. Use: as perfume; insect repellent.
EUCALYPT OIL: Dinkum oil. Volatile oil from fresh leaves of Eucalyptus globulus Labill and of some other species of Eucalyptus, Myrtaceae. A dwarf species, E. dumosa A. Cunn. ex Schauer, called Mallee in Australia, is richest in oil of Eucalyptus. Contains: 70-80% eucalyptol (cineole ) (#3840); a-pinene (#7319), phellandrene (#7060); terpineol (#8996); citronellal (#2301, 2302) ; geranyl acetate (#4263); eudesmol; eudesmyl acetate; piperitone (#7348); volatile aldehydes (principally isovaleric ); E. Guenther, The Essentiial Oils, vol. 4 (Van Nostrand, N.Y., 1950) pp. 437-525. Colorless to pale yellow liquid; chjaracteristic camphoaceous odor; pungent, spicy, cooling taste. d25/25: 0.905-0.925. Does not solidify below -15.4°. aD: -5° to +5°. n20/D: 1.458 to 1.470. Almost insoluble in water; soluble in 5 vols 70% alcohol; miscible with abs alcohol, oils, fats. Keep well closed, cool and protected from light. Therapeutic category: expectorant, anthelmintic, local antiseptic. Therapeutic. category (Veterinary): inhalation expectorant; wound dressing.
MELALEUCA OIL, Oil of Cajeput : Volatile oil from fresh leaves and twigs of several varieties of Melaleuca leucadendron L., and other species of Melaleuca, Myrtaceae. Contains: 50-60% eucalyptol (cineol) (#3840); l-pinene (#7319), terpineol (#8996); valeric, butyric, benzoic and other aldehydes. Colorless or yellowish liquid, agreeable camphor odor, and bitter aromatic taste. d: 0.912-0.925; a20/D <-4°. n20/D 1.4660-1.4710. Very slightly soluble in water; soluble in 1 vol 80% alcohol. Misc with alcohol, chloroform, ether, carbon disulfide. Keep well closed, cool, and protected from light. LD50 orally in rats: 3870 mg/kg, P. M Jenner et al., Food Cosmet. Toxicol. 2: 327 (1964). Therapeutic. Category: expectorant, topical parasiticide, counterirritant. Used for its germicidal properties and as a powerful anti-spasmodic diffusable stimulant and as a sudorific; in India it has been use as an external application for rheumatism. Therapeutic category (veterinary): rubefacient, topical antimycotic.
*PATCHOULY OIL: commercial oil from Pogostemon cablin (Blanco)Benth., Lamiaceae. Contains: patchouli alcohol (#6913) (q.v.); minor constits. include patchoulene, azulene (#926), eugenol (#3846), and several unidentified sesquiterpenes: Pfau, Plattner, Helv. Chim. Acta 19:874 (1936); Naoko et al., Bull. Chem. Soc. Japan 40:597 (1967). Review: E. Guenther, The Essential Oils, vol. III (Van Nostrand, NY, 1949), pp. 552-575. Yellowish or greenish to dark brown oil, intense and persistently fragrant odor. Can be stored indefinitely. Odor improves with age. d15/15: 0.975-0.987. a20/D: -54° to - 65.3°. n20/D: 1.5099 tp 1.5111. Saponif. No. 3.3 to 9.3. Ester no. After acetylation: 17.7 to 22.4. Practically insol. in water. Sol. in ether. USE: In perfumes to impart a lasting oriental fragrance, in incense, soaps, cosmetics. To scent fine Indian fabrics and shaws. [To repel or control insect pests].
*PENNYROYAL OIL (American): Oil of hedeoma. Volatile oil from leaves and flowering tops of Hedeoma pulegioides (L.) Pers., Lamiaceae. Contains: chiefly pulegone; 2 ketones; acetic, formic and isoheptoic acids. Pale yellow liq; aromatic odor. d25/25: 0.920- 0.935. a20/D: +18° to +22°. n20/D: 1.482. Slt. sol. in water; soluble in 3 vols 70% alcohol; very soluble in chloroform, ether. Keep well closed, cool and protected from light. Therapeutic category: aromatic carminative.
PENNYROYAL OIL (European): Oil of pulegium. Volatile oil from Mentha pulegium L., Lamiaceae. Constit.: ca. 85% pulegone. Yellowish or greenish-yellow liquid; aromatic mint-like odor; aromatic taste. d15/15: 0.960. a20/D: +14° to +28°. n20/D: 1.475 to 1.496.
PEPPERMINT OIL: colpermin. Steam-distilled, volatile oil from fresh flowering plant, Mentha piperita L., Lamiaceae. The Japanese oil, also known as oil of Poho, is the liq. portion remaining afer the separation of menthol from the oil of Mentha arvensis L. Contains: not less than 50% total menthol (#5662) including 5-9% esters calcd as menthyl acetate; menthyl isovalerate (#5667), menthone (#5663), inactive pinene (#7320), l-limonene (#5321), cadinene (#1582)), phellandrene (#7060), some acetaldehyde, isovaleric aldehyde, amyl alcohol, dimethyl sulfide. Colorless to pale yellow liquid; strong, penetrating peppermint odor and pungent taste. d25/25: 0.896-0.908. a25: -18° to -32°. n20/D: 1.460 to 1.471. Very slt. Soluble in water; soluble in 4 vols 90% alcohol. Use: for flavoring ill-tasting medicines, tooth powders, toothpastes, mouthwashes, liqueurs. Therapeutic category: pharmaceutic aid (flavor). Carminative. Therapeutic category (veterinary): carminative.
Rosemary Oil: Volatile oil from fresh flowering tops of Rosmarinus officinalis L. Lamiaceae. Contains: not less than 10% borneol (#1322); not less than 2.5% esters calculated as bornyl acetate (#1323); camphor (#1710), eucalyptol (#3840), pinene (#7319), camphene (#1708). Colorless or pale yellow liquid; characteristic rosemary odor; comphoraceous taste. d25/25: 0.894-0.912. a25/D: -5° to +10°. n20/D: 1.464 to 1.476. Almost insoluble in water; soluble in 10 vols 80% alcohol. Keep well closed, cool and protected from lithrt. Use: in liniments and in hair lotions. Therapeutic category: carminative, rubefacient
*SPEARMINT OIL: Oil of crispmint: oil of curled mint. Volatile oil from the flowering tops of Mentha spicata L. (M. viridis L.), Lamiaceae. Contains: at least 50% carvone, l-limonene, pinene. Colorless, yellow or greenish-yellow liq.; characteristic spearmint odor and taste. d25/25 0.917 to 0. 934. a20/D: -48° to -59°. n20/D: 1.482 to 1.490. Very slt soluble in water; soluble in equal vol 80% alcohol. Keep well closed, cool and protected from light. Therapeutic category: pharmaceutic aid (flavor), Carminative.
*TEA TREE OIL: Produced as a volatile oil from leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia (Myrtaceae). The bush industry is centered in the Richmond and Clarence river valleys of Australia--areas with the largest natural stands of M. alternifolia. The Australian standard recommends that tea tree oil contain at least 30 per cent terpinen-4-ol (= a-terpinen-4-ol?) and not more than 15 % cineole (eucalyptol). Most commercial tea-tree oil contains 30-45 % terpinen-4-ol and 2-10 % cineole (Colton & Murtagh 1990).
THYME OIL: Volatile oil distilled from flowering plant, Thymus vulgaris L., Lamiaceae. Contains: 20-40% by vol of thymol (#9246) and carvacrol (#1855); cymene (#2758), pinene (#7319), linalool (#5323), bornyl acetate (#1323). Colorless to reddish-brown liq; pleasant thymol odor; sharp taste. d25/25: 0.894 to 0.930. a25/D: <-4° . n20/D: 1.483 to 1.510. Very slt soluble in water; soluble in 2 vols of 80% alcohol. Keep well closed, cool and protected from light. Note: often mislabeled "Oil of Origanum". Therapeutic category: rubefacient, counterirritant, antiseptic, carminative.
**WINTERGREEN OIL, betula oil, sweet birch oil, teaberry oil. No. 5994, Merck Index. Contains: Methyl salicylate; 2-Hydrxybenzoic acid methyl ester; C8H8O3. Mol. Wt. 152.14. Present in leaves of Gaultheria procumbens L., Ericaceae; in the bark of Betula lenta L., Black Birch, Betulaceae; mostly prepared by esterification of salicylic acid with methanol. The product of commerce is about 99% pure. Colorless, yellowish or reddish, oily liq; odor and taste of Gautheria. Mp -8.6° bp 220-224° d25/25 1.184. D of the natural ester is about 1.180. N20/D 1.535-1.538. Flash pt, closed cup: 210°F (99°C). Slightly soluble In water; one gram in about 1500 ml.; soluble in chloroform, ether. Misc with alcohol, glacial acetic acid. LD50 orally in rats: 887 mg/kg. P.M. Jenner et al., Food Cosmet. Toxicol. 2: 327 (1964). Human toxicity: ingestion of relatively small amounts may cause severe poisoning and death (average lethal dose: 10 ml in children, 30ml in adults). Symptoms of poisoning: nausea, vomiting, acidosis, pulmonary edema, pneumonia, convulsions, death. Cf. Clinical toxicology of Commercial Products, R. E. Gosselin et al., eds. (Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, 4th ed. 1976), Section III, pp. 295-303. Use: in perfumery; for flavoring candies, etc. Therapeutic Category: counterirritant.
Kartesz, J. T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada and Greenland. Checklist, 622 pp. and Thesaurus, 816 pp. 2nd ed., Timber Press, Oregon.
Windholz, M, Budavari, S., Blumetti, R. F., Otterbein, E. S. (Eds.) 1983. The Merck Index, 10th Edition. Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, N. J., 1463 pp. + appendices.
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The first treatment was made late March. Using our spring stimulation feeding we fed wintergreen essential oil to every hive in sugar syrup. It seems that feeding close to the entrance, in our case the top of the hive, it persuades the bees that nectar is coming in. The first rule of the hive, incoming nectar is fed to the brood, second, the house bees, then finally the excess is then stored. If the incoming volume is kept low, then little will be stored. It is believed that this treatment interferes with the chemical sensors of the Varroa, in which case they cannot find the brood where they breed and reproduce.
Our first job was to adjust the information available to us, and to scale up the measurements to useable amounts, we settled on 1 gallon as a useful figure. James reported that oil is difficult to mix into the sugar syrup, but that honey has a natural emulsifier. We used approximately ½ lb of honey, added 100 drops of wintergreen, stirring till mixed thoroughly and fully incorporated. To this we added equal amounts of warm water, then finally added this mixture to our 1-1 sugar syrup. At all points where we were dealing with the essential oil we kept the temperature to a minimum to prevent loss of essence. We found that the oil was totally absorbed and fully integrated with the above method.
To date we have had two treatments
alternating with regular 1-1 syrup with apple cider
vinegar, a normal treatment of ours.
It is now early May. Yesterday we started Spring management. In our case it involves a total hive strip, each frame is removed and examined for problems, and an assessment of hive and queen viability. We are pleasantly surprised at the overall quality. Apart from one hive that was very small, mainly because the stores were below the cluster, all hives were in good condition. Good sized clusters and little sign of Varroa. No small and damaged bees. One big plus, it appears that the FGMO we used last fall helps to prevent any burr comb forming on the frame top bars, ours were remarkably clean.
We are still feeding wintergreen as needed, but we have now started with tobacco in the smoker and a thin line of FGMO on the top bars every time we open the hive, or every week at least. Just out of interest, the amount of tobacco in the smoker is quite small, about ½ oz. We make a pocket of a facial tissue, sprinkle dry tobacco on it then roll it into our corrugated cardboard, like a giant cigar. Lit from the bottom it burns a long time. Now I know why the old members of our guild used to smoke a cigar while working bees, the effect on them is quite remarkable. Calm, quiet, no aggression and no threats from the bees.
Taken from https://www.beeworks.com/
Hints & Tips<>Hints and Tips on bee keeping can be points of much discussion, some one once said "put 10 bee keepers together and get 12 answers" possibly each one will work! To this point I would add, the following are ideas of mine that work, but for clarity I provide just one way to proceed with any question. Should you have a query with any procedure, then a simple e-mail to our office with your problem will suffice. Some topics you will find on the site.
Making Queens....without grafting
Using Northern Queens
Essential Oils.....anti Varroa
Swarming.... cause and cure
Slow Hives....mating diversity
Nucs and Splits
Small Hive Beetle Traps
This site by an entomologist at West Virginia
University discusses the effective control of mites
using essential oils . A specific formula is suggested
making use of honey or sugar as follows: Syrup: 25 drops
(1 cc) of wintergreen or spearmint is added to one pint
of honey (or two cups of sugar (about one pound or 453.6
grams)) in a quart jar (0.95 liter); hot water is added
to fill the jar. We found that more of the essential oil
goes into solution in honey than in sugar syrup; there
may be a natural emulsifier in honey that helps
essential oils to stay in solution.
This good article on timing your treatments provides a well written explanation of when to apply acaracide strips.
The drone comb removal method is described here.
Current focus concerning the Varroa problem is on the issue of mite resistance to the single approved mite medication. The USDA recognizes Apistan as the only product which has been demonstrated as efective against mites. This oil based form of the chemical fluvanate is impregnated into strips to be placed in the hive at prescribed dosage levels of 1 strip per 5 frames of brood. The strips must be left in the hive for at least 42 days and no more than 56 days.
Treatment for mites must follow the medication recomendations. Practices such as keeping strips for re-use, or leaving them in for longer than the recomended period leads to a situation where mites are exposed to small, but non-lethal doses of medication. The lower levels of medication may kill the weak mites but any mite that might be resistant will survive to reproduce. This is the path by which mites become resistant.
An interesting history that documents the same situation in Italy can be read. It states in part:
"...When the situation improved with the introduction
of apistan things seemed under control for a few years.
However, many found the price of apistan too high and,
finding another product with the same active ingredient
(fluvinate) sold at a much lower price by the same
manufacturer, started making the strips themselves,
often mistaking the dosage. This, and the misuse of
apistan itself lead to fluvinate resistant varroa which
started killing hives all over again from 1992-3
Mites and Diseases