Sunday, March 7, 2010

Essential Oil Stimulant, Base Mix

This is one of the most important recipes that I mix up and use for the season. Not only does it help to stimulate feeding and improve health of my Honey Bees, it's CHEAP! There are similar products on the "bee market" and very expensive too! I'm all for saving lots of money, and still yet accomplishing the same outcome. Aren't you? So here goes;

I'll walk you through the steps of how I mix this Essential Oil Stimulant Base Mix. First, understand, that this is a "base mix". From this 1 gallon jug of mix, I'll take 2 tsp's for each Quart jar of sugar water, to feed the bees. Get the idea? So, this 1 gallon of mix will last me for the entire bee season, and then some. Also, I use it in my spray bottle, when I enter hives, to calm the bees. A "liquid smoke" of sorts. In my spray bottle, I may put 4 to 6 tsp's of this mix. I think you get the idea.

Lets go through each ingredient and the amounts before we mix. The "what" and "why".

I'll add 1 tsp of Fumi-B to my recipe, simply to ward off Nozema. A bacterial tummy sickness that gives Honey Bees the poopy-runs. An easy visual indication of this, is if you see yellow streaks on the face of your brood box. Bees don't poop inside the house, so when they hit the air, they can't hold it any longer and let go! Leaving yellow poopy streaks on the face of the brood box. If you see this, you'll want to get some Fumi-B sugar water on them quick. For this recipe, I'll use it as an "aid", in hopes of preventing such sickness. I've had colonies die out quick, after I've seen these signs, and not gotten this med on them quick enough. So I take it rather seriously. This Essential Oil mix is primarily fed to Baby colonies, in Nucs, starter bees, and to full strength colonies in early Spring and late Fall. I DO NOT feed this to the "honey production" colonies during Nectar flow. If I did, I'd get a Lemony flavored honey. I don't think it would harm me, but not something that I'd want to sell. However, my first year I did this, not knowing exactly what I was doing, my kids LOVED the Lemony flavor! Great? LOL

To my dry mix, before I add warm water, I'll add 2 tsp's of Fruit Fresh (@ Wal-Mart), simply to keep this sugar mix as fresh as possible throughout the bee season. I don't feel it harms the bees in anyway, and can tell no negative side affects on the bees in using it. Remember, I'm mixing nearly a gallon of liquid and then only a few tsp's per Quart jar for feeding. So it's "cut" to such a degree, that I feel comfortable adding it to this Base Mix.

To key Essential Oils are added. These are 1 oz bottles of oil. On the left, is LemonGRASS oil, and on the right, is Spearmint Oil. DO NOT use "lemon oil", but "lemonGRASS oil". There's a difference. There are 2 types of Lemon oils, you'll want to use LemonGRASS oil. Note; these are CONCENTRATED oils. They'll go a VERY LONG ways. Even though they are small 1 oz bottles, I'll only use 1cc at a time. This "oil concentrate" goes a very long ways. These 2 little bottles, of only 1 oz each, will last me several seasons. The eye dropper you see, is "graduated", or marked. The top marking, is 1 mml, pretty close to 1cc. I'll suck up and use 1cc of each oil. But there is a certain way we add this oil. For now, just make note of the TYPE of oil, and respect the fact that it's a CONCENTRATED oil, and must remain in a GLASS bottle. It will certainly melt plastic, I know, I've tried. (story for another time. LOL) These types of oils can be found at or your local health food stores.

This item is called Lecithin. A natural Emulsion. Made from Soybean Meal powder. In pellet form. The purpose for this product, is to BREAK DOWN and DISPERSE the 2 oils used above. Oils tend to BALL UP in liquids, we don't want this. We want the oils to disperse among the entire mixture. On the left is a Half Pint jar. The day before I make my Base Mix, I'll fill this jar half full of water. With the lid off, I'll place jar in microwave to bring to a boil, which happens quickly. Use a hot pad, remove jar, and to this water add 1 tsp of Lecithin granules. Screw the lid on jar of water, and shake vigorously. Be sure to use a towel or hot pad. This jar is hot, but needs to be, in order to break down these Lecithin pellets. I'll shake this jar off and on throughout the evening, and also the next morning. Periodically I'll unscrew the lid, let the air in, equalize the pressure and screw it back down. It must be shaken, in order to break down these small pellets of Lecithin. You can find this natural Lecithin at most Health Food stores, a common item. ie, GNK, Health Foods, etc. Set this jar aside over nite. You'll make up your mix the next day. I simply left it out on the counter over nite.
My 1 gallon jug, which is shown empty here. This jug is from Apple Cider Vinegar. The bottle is made of a thicker plastic, versus a standard milk jug. I like this jug for the thicker plastic, and the pop-top lid. Of course, it's been washed and rinsed thoroughly before mixing.

This bucket contains 1/2 gallon of table sugar. I simply used 2 Quarts jars to measure out the sugar, and poured it in this "holding bucket", for later use.

A funnel. Why show a darn funnel? Well, this one fits nicely in the top of the jug above. It also has a wide mouth and a wide spout. You can find this funnel at Wal-Mart in the automotive section.

Here's the entire grouping of ingredients, so you'll have an idea of what you're about to mix. The most important part of this, is the ORDER OF MIXING. Pay close attention to "the order" of mixing these ingredients. There is a reason for doing so. Notice the half pint jar of Liquid Lecithin on the left. It was mixed the night before, and is now ready to be used. This is an Emulsion, and is key, in order to disperse the oils.

Here we go! To your 1 gallon jug, pour in your dry table sugar (half gallon of sugar).

To this DRY sugar, add 2 tsp's of Fruit Fresh.

Then add 1 tsp of Fumi-B, to the DRY mix.

Place jug in sink, turn on HOT water. Let this tap water come to full heat. When you feel the water is as hot as it's going to come out, add water to the jug. Let this level of hot water come up to about 2/3's full. Leave yourself some "shake room", for later on. Once it's 2/3's full of hot water, place cap on securely, hold the jug securely and shake aggressively in order to mix and melt the dry ingredients. Let stand, in a few minutes, shake again, repeat. Don't add anything else to this liquid until you feel it's all melted and mixed together. It shouldn't take too long.

This is what it should look like when finally mixed (1/2 gal sugar, 2 tsp's Fruit Fresh & 1 tsp Fumi-B, is all that's in this jug right now.)

Now, onto the half pint of Lecithin Emulsion. Add 1cc of Lemongrass oil, and then add 1cc of Spearmint oil. (Note; 1cc equals about 20-25 drops of oil.) This emulsion is at room temperature, since you left it on the counter the night before. I do not heat this up at this point, due to the fact that the HEAT tends to evaporate the oils too quickly and also, makes the smell rather strong. Add the oils, screw the lid on, and shake well. The emulsion will break down these oils droplets and disperse the oils. We don't want the oils to BALL UP on the top of the liquid.

Here, you see that I've added the oils and HAVE NOT shaken the jar yet. See the oil balls at the top of the liquid? This is what we DO NOT want to happen in our gallon jug of mix. The tsp is setting to the side only for size comparison.

Once again, screw the lid on the jar, shake well.

With these 2 liquids mixed and ready to go, you're half way there. Here comes the important part.

In the "holding bucket", that just contained your 1/2 gallon of dry sugar, POUR IN the jug of sugar water. We MUST mix the Emulsion a specific way, or the oils will tend to ball up at the top of the mix. We want this sugar water OUT of the jug, FIRST.

Sugar water OUT of the jug, waiting.

To this now EMPTY jug, we'll add our Emulsion mix.

The jug now has the Emulsion mix at the bottom. Place the jug in the sink. If you spill the sugar water, no worries. Place the bucket of sugar water next to the sink. Place the funnel in the top of the jug. With the same 1/2 pint jar, scoop out the sugar water in the bucket. Why? If I poured this entire bucket of liquid into the funnel, the bottle is sure to Rock-n-Roll. No hurries, no worries. Just scoop out the sugar water with the small jar you just used for the Emulsion.

Make certain your funnel is STRAIGHT up and down and won't fall out.

Scoop out all the sugar water.

As you scoop out the sugar water and add it to the Emulsion mix, something happens!! It changes colors to a more Lemony Yellow color, AND the Emulsion disperses the oils among the entire jug. If I didn't do it in this order, most likely the oils would just end up balling at the top of the mix. We want the oil held in SUSPENSION as much as possible. I can't explain the "chemical process" for this, only that experience with Emulsions has taught me that "order of mixing" with oils, is important. Emulsion goes in FIRST, and THEN add the Base Mix. Shake this jug thoroughly in order to mix the liquids. As you let it set over the months, you'll see a yellow film ring form on top, against the jug. Simply shake it again. It's all good.

Also, I use a smaller bottle, to pour my little tsp amounts. It's tough holding this big jug, and pouring into a tiny tsp for measuring. Therefore, use a smaller bottle, for the actual measuring and pouring. Much easier. Remember, this jug is your BASE MIX, from which you operate for specific measured amounts....a few tsp's at a time.

Now you're finished. The reason for showing this bucket, is simple. Take this entire bucket, as you see it, OUT TO YOUR BEES. Let them lick up the residual sugar water, etc. After a day, you can bring it back in for a proper washing.

And finally, the Beekeepers Tool Box. Here's a good idea. You'll end up having small pieces of beekeeping equipment, ie, oils, meds, droppers, etc. A simple $5 plastic tackle box from Wal-Mart works great.

Why go to the trouble to make this mix up? 1) Cost savings - products like this on the market are EXPENSIVE. 2) Feeding Stimulant - the mixture of Spearmint oil and Lemongrass oil, does certainly encourage the bees to forage more. 3) The Lemongrass oil settles the colony down upon inspection - the Queens tend to smell like Lemon, to the bees. When opening a colony, I'll use traditional smoke first, then once in, spritz them with my bottle which has 4-6 tsps of this Oil mix. Settles them right down. 4) The Spearmint & Lemongrass oil together tends to knock out some of the Varoa mites. (per Univ of West Virginia research and findings). I would agree.

I certainly wouldn't go to this amount of trouble if I didn't think it was well worth doing. The 4 reasons mentioned above, are certainly enough incentive for me to go to such efforts.

WARNING! DO NOT sell this product. I only make it for my own personal use, etc. I do not sell this item for fear of Copyright violations. Got the idea?

Suggestion; make this exact recipe up and GIVE AWAY several bottles to your beekeeping friends. It will certainly go a very long ways. We run 15 to 25 colonies of bees, and will likely have 1/4 of this jug left over at the end of the bee season.

Hope I've helped! Keep your bees healthy!!

Thanks, Ken