Some people believe that grease patties provide a way to help keep Varroa mite populations low during the winter. This may be true, assuming mite populations are low to start with. A hive that is already heavily infected with Varroa will not benefit from grease patties. Like a screened bottom board, a grease patty most likely has limited value.
According to conventional wisdom, a grease patty with essential oils added—usually wintergreen or tea tree—helps to control mites in two ways. First, the grease tends to get all over the bees, and a slippery surface is difficult for the mites to hang onto. Some research has shown that mite drops may be two to three times greater in the presence of grease patties.
Secondly, the essential oils have a repellent effect on the mites. In addition, some research indicates that if mites come into direct contact with wintergreen or tea tree oil it can kill them outright or interfere with their breeding cycle. Although the EPA does not recognize these oils as being effective, there is much evidence in the beekeeping community that the oils have some effect. Many beekeepers keep grease patties on the hive year-round, but patties with essential oils incorporated into them should not be used when honey supers are on the hive.
Many recipes for grease patties can be found, but the one from the University of West Virginia is quite popular and appears below. The only problem I see with this recipe is the use of honey. If you do not have disease-free honey from your own apiary, do not use honey. I recommend substituting heavy syrup (2 parts sugar to one part water) for the honey unless you are absolutely certain you know the origin of the honey. This point cannot be stressed too much. Honey may contain spores of American foul brood and can easily transmit the disease to your hives. Although, harmless to humans, these spores can wreak havoc on your apiary.
The inclusion of salt provides the bees with essential minerals that they usually get from the environment when they collect water and other materials. Since these products are not collected in the winter, the salt helps to round out the honey bee diet. The sugar and/or honey simply make the patties more attractive to the bees.
The patties can be made in advance and kept in the freezer until you need them. Beekeepers usually place four or five small patties (about 2 ounces each) on the top bars and one just inside the front entrance.
Wintergreen oil can be toxic to humans when absorbed through the skin, so always wear protective gloves when mixing the patties.
Wintergreen grease patties
One batch will treat 8-10 hives. You can easily increase or decrease the recipe size depending on your needs.
4.4 pounds (2 kg) granulated sugar
3 ounces (90 ml) corn oil
1.5 pounds (0.7 kg) vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 pound (454 g) honey
1/2 pound (227 g) mineral salt (pink color)
2.2 ounces (65 ml) wintergreen oil (or tea tree oil)
Step 1: Pulverize the salt so that it mixes evenly throughout the patty. This also prevents water droplets from forming around salt crystals.
Step 2: Mix all the ingredients thoroughly using protective gloves.
Step 3: Make patties the size of small hamburgers.
Step 4: Store in freezer until ready to use.
By the way, if you can’t find a source of mineral salt—or you don’t want to buy a 50-pound bag—go to your pet store and buy a “bunny wheel.” A bunny wheel is nothing more than a mineral salt lick for rabbits and the bees don’t seem to object to this inclusion of rabbit food in their diet.
Kris this might be good for you to use for the bees—-check it out—–DAD
I do not understand the necessity of another note.
I have used this for two years. Hardly any hive beetles and very strong bees in spring. Really good stuff.
Your grease patties look great but have you ever or heard of someone mixing a protein (yeast or soy flour) into the grease patty?
You could easily mix a protein supplement into the grease patty. I don’t because I use protein supplements just prior to spring build-up only, whereas I use grease patties all winter.
I am a bit confused by the differing ideas so help me out here. At the beekeeping meeting I was informed not to feed grease-based pollen patties before you were sure the bees would consume them because the grease attracts mites; they put the larva in the patties then you are overrun with mites. But this says grease with wintergreen is good for controlling them. So if I put wintergreen in the pollen patty the mites won’t be a problem, yes?
Female Varroa mites lay their eggs in brood cells with developing larvae, just before the cell is capped. They will never lay their eggs in a grease patty.
However, small hive beetles–both larvae and adults–are attracted to grease patties and pollen patties as a food source. I think maybe they were talking about small hive beetles, not Varroa mites.
I made grease patties and got my nuc, put them on top near front entrance over brood, and I think they just melted, it was so hot. Does this happen to others? Did I make them wrong? How do you prevent them from just melting in the heat and becoming a greasy oil slick under the hive?
Grease patties are used in the winter when it’s cold. I wouldn’t put them into a hive that was warm.
It’s wonderful the way you answer my questions. Alrighty, so let us conclude it is small hive beetles. I do confuse the two pests. Will the wintergreen work for them as well if put into a pollen patty? I don’t see a category about hive beetles, have you written anything about them?
Well, Sarah, you do keep me busy. As far as I know, wintergreen oil has no affect on hive beetles.
You caught me on the subject of hive beetles. I haven’t written about them and I was wondering when someone would ask. I do have a pile of notes, though, so I’ll try to get to it. When, I don’t know.
Hello all readers,
About two weeks ago I made my first batch of the grease patties according to the recipe on Rusty’s site. I used tea tree oil in one batch and lemon grass oil in the other batch. My bees are eating the stuff with joy and I have caught some mites on the varroa board which I smeared with thick vaseline so they could not escape if they were still alive!!. My question now is, Rusty says leave the patties on all winter… Okay does this mean I have to make more. Should I re-supply the bees all the time with new grease patties when I think that the old ones are nearly gone? Or is there a limit to the amount of essential oils that they may consume over the whole of winter? thank you Lindy
In my experience, the bees slow down on consuming the grease patties once it gets really cold and the bees stay in a cluster. Usually, by early spring, the remaining patties have begun to dry up and at that time, I toss those and make new. Other folks may have had a different result. Anyone?
Hello. My husband and I presently have only one hive, and it’s been doing very well for years. We want to begin incorporating all-natural supplements and such to ensure their continued health, so I’ve been looking into recipes to supplement their food source when necessary, plus we robbed their honey stores recently and it’s looking like it may be a harsh winter for us. I will try your detailed recipe above (thank you very much for that) but have two questions…
1. Why shortening when its loaded with hydrogenated oils and triglycerides?
2. Why corn oil, as opposed to any other oil options?
Hmm. Excellent questions. I posted this recipe because it got favorable reviews for effectiveness. I have used it with good results as well. But you bring up a valid argument. In my opinion, these fats and oils were chosen because they are cheap and readily available.
I don’t see why you couldn’t substitute other products. I would keep the ratio of solid-at-room-temperature to liquid-at-room-temperature oils the same for consistency’s sake. So coconut oil, as an example, could be used in place of the shortening and just about any liquid vegetable oil could be used instead of corn.
However, I don’t know how the melting point of Crisco compares to, say, coconut oil. If the coconut (or whatever) melts at a relatively low temperature, it might melt in the hive on a hot day and create a big mess. You should probably research the melting point of whatever you use as a substitute.
I would be interested in hearing what you decide on.
Rusty – what about lard? I have a source that is pasture raised & ASH-free, and costs no more than crisco. Is there any reason bees shouldn’t have animal fat? Grease isn’t a normal part of bees’ diet anyway, is it? Just asking.
And where do you set the patty – on top of the frames with the candy boards?
The grease is to make the bees slippery, but they ingest some of it. Hence the addition of sugar and salt. Since bees are vegetarians, it didn’t occur to me to give them fat from an animal source. But I honestly don’t know if it would hurt them or not. Never really thought about it.
I put all that stuff in an eke above the top brood box, but under the quilt. I often have pollen patties, sugar cakes, grease patties . . . an entire smorgasbord of bee delectables. I don’t use candy boards because of this arrangement. I just have to lift one end of the quilt to get a good look at the pantry and see what they need.
Thanks for your response and honest answers. I also appreciate the application suggestions.
I agree coconut oil does melt very low, so if that turns out to be a problem, what about adding a bit of their own wax to it? It certainly wouldn’t take much if I have trouble with solidity in the hive.
I think it sounds like a good idea. You could melt them together.
Grease patties are not intended for varroa , but tracheal Mites… Totaly different problem. they may help a small bit with Varro, BUT that is not the intent. The hydrocarbons in the grease wreack havoc on trachel mites. As for SHB, yes they will breed in the patties. Like crazy if the bees are ignoring the patties. But SHB do not breed much in winter, so the Plus is much greater than the minus….
Originally grease patties with menthol were used to control tracheal mites. When Varroa came on the scene, experiments were done using similar techniquesafter all, a mite is a mite. It was discovered that grease patties with wintergreen or tea tree oils were most effective for controlling Varroa mites. The grease is merely a vehicle for the essential oil which is the active ingredient.
The following is a quote from a paper I wrote:
“Essential oils have two modes of action in the control of Varroa mites. Oils such as wintergreen, patchouli, and tea tree kill mites on contact (Armine et al. 1996) They can be mixed into patties made of vegetable oil and sugar, and placed on the top bars of the hive. As the bees move about the hive, they rub against these pattiesor try to remove themand thus distribute the essential oil throughout. Alternatively, if the oils are mixed into liquid syrup and fed to the bees, the nurse bees then feed them to the larvae. When the mites feed on larvae that have consumed essential oils, their reproduction is interrupted, probably due to interference with the enzymes vital to gestation (Amrine et al. 1996) Depending on the concentration, the mites may be unable to lay eggs or mite development may be delayed. If mites do not reach maturity by the time the honey bee larvae emerge from their cocoons, the immature mites will die.”
The volume of Tea Tree oil is very expensive. I bought a 2.2 ml bottle for $7.50 at the health food store. Is there a cheaper source or is the 65ml quanity a typo?
I checked the recipe at the source and it is correct. I always buy essential oils from an online store called 100 Percent Pure Essential Oils. Their prices are good, service is quick, and quality is excellent.
My 4-ounce bottle of tea tree oil was $17.04. A similar bottle of wintergreen oil was $15.17. A four-ounce bottle of tea tree oil at the rate your health food store charges would be $387.27. Whoa.
Suggestions regarding essential oils suppliers… I’ve been purchasing from CamdenGrey.com for years and they have good quality products as well as decent pricing on products and shipping. Also, I’ve found a decent supplier in the past couple years who sells via Amazon – search for seller Greenals or Green Health. I’ve been able to buy bigger quantities of what I use the most, such as tea tree, lavender, rosemary, & citronella for incredibly reasonable prices and the quality is very good, though some of the harder to acquire oils are not quite as good as CamdenGrey. I don’t know about 100PercentPure, so I can’t advise.
Always, always be sure to read all advertised information, especially whether or not it’s a pure essential oil, one that has been diluted in alcohol or carrier oils, or even an aromatherapy oil. If ever this information is not readily provided, don’t even think about it! It’s not worth the aggravation to find out it’s not what you needed anyway.
Aside from mite treatment, could grease patties be used as winter feed, as opposed to candy? Or is candy, given the sugar is inverted, a better food for emergency feeding? I’m trying to work smarter, not harder, and the process involved in making grease patties is SO much easier than a cooked product. What do you think?
I don’t know the answer for sure. But it seems to me that grease patties alone as a supplementary feed may be too high in fat for a healthy bee diet. It’s fine for them to eat some amount of fat but, in my opinion, they are not designed to eat lots of fat. If you don’t want to cook sugar, why not use the mountain camp method or the slurry method?
Mountain camp feeder for winter
Ten questions about mountain camp feeding
Sugar slurry feeding
I ended up making fondant but am still considering making some grease patties. I’m seeing varroa mites on the tray under my Warré hive.
BTW, the corn oil in the WVU recipe is seemingly for application purposes. My guess is it either lubricates the grease gun with a food grade oil, or it makes the “patty” soft enough to push through the grease gun. http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/varroa/2010/Grease%20Patties%202010.pdf
Just another source for essential oils: San Francisco Herb. 8 oz oil of wintergreen, $22.36, Tea tree oil 8 oz 21.20. (plus shipping, but even in KY, still a good deal for me.)
For smaller quantities, a CVS, Drug Mart or Duane Reade will have Tea tree for around 7 bucks/1 oz (30 ml). Health food stores tend to have high markups.
One more tip: a 4-oz ice cream scoop with a spring release handle makes neat balls on wax paper. You squush with another sheet of wax paper, slip into ziploc. Lots less messy than using hands or tablespoon.
What about using eucalyptus oil in the treatment of varroa mites? Say, like in with the grease patties in stead of wintergreen or tea tree oil? Will this work? It is certainly less expensive.
Willow Creek Honey Producers
I don’t know about eucalyptus oil. The only oils I mentioned were those where I found papers where controlled experiments showed that the oils made statistically significant impacts on Varroa mites. That is not to say it wouldn’t work, only that I found no papers saying it did. Each oil is composed of entirely different chemical components. Some oils have components that are detrimental to mites and some don’t, so each one has to be evaluated separately.
I am a first year beekeeper and wanted to try the grease patties so I mixed up a small batch for my five hives. I must have did something wrong as the bees will not touch the patties. I mixed it up according to the directions that was given to me. I do have other food source for them, is this the problem?
Some bees eat the patties and some don’t, so I wouldn’t worry about. If they needed the nutrition, they would eat them.
Would it be acceptable to do a 1/2 tea tree 1/2 wintergreen patty?
It certainly would not hurt the bees but it might not hurt the mites either. It is the wintergreen oil that is harmful to mites.
There is a ton of research around essential oils; this is one abstract
This research was conducted to evaluate acaricidal effects of some plant essences on Varroa mites and the possibility of their usage for Varroa control. First, live Varroa mites were obtained from adult honeybees with CO2 in a newly designed apparatus. Thyme, savory, rosemary, marjoram, dillsun and lavender essences at concentrations of 2 and 1 g/100 g (w/w), caused a mite mortality rate of more than 97% and 95%, respectively. Also spearmint at 2 g/100 g was able to kill more than 97% of Varroa mites. When sprayed on worker honeybees infected with mites, thyme, savory, spearmint and dillsun essences at 2 g/100 g (w/w) caused 43-58% Varroa mortality. Toxicity of thyme, savory and spearmint essences for worker honeybees was not significantly different from that of controls (acetone and water), but dillsun essence caused 12% honeybee mortality. These results showed that essences of thyme, savory and spearmint have acaricidal properties that could be used for controlling Varroa in honeybee colonies.
and another that talks about over a dozen oils and their benefit to varroa and AFB:
The UofWV article has been updated as well as they noticed that patties alonw may not eradicate varroa and noticed that varroa would move away from treatment areas and suggested the addition of strips in areas been might congregate.
I’m a new beekeepers and would like to get the “when” of feeding the grease patties with wintergreen to the bees. Is it ok to feed during the summer? I just put our two packages in at the end of May. We live on the GA-AL border, about 90 miles South of Atlanta. Thanks in advance!
Grease patties are usually used in late fall and winter. In any case, you don’t want to put wintergreen in your hive during nectar collection because your honey might end up tasting like wintergreen. Also, the patty might melt in summer and drip down between the framesnot good.
This didn’t work for me. I found a bunch of dead bees attached to these grease patties. Also, UC-Davis said that is way too much salt to put into a hive, that it will kill brood. The bees got the grease on them, but then they couldn’t fly because they had clumps of it on their wings. UC-Davis said it’s too hard for the bees to fly with grease on their wings, that it would probably make them die sooner. My experience was the yellowjackets got the bees with grease on them. I went back and took these out and tossed them in the trash.
It sounds like you made your recipe wet and soupy. It should be too dry to stick in clumps to the bees’ wings. If turns out too wet, add more sugar until it reaches a good consistency. If you are uncomfortable with the amount of salt, cut it down.
I always use powdered sugar in order to control the mites .not sure why but a good dusting a few times a year seems to help them,, the grease patties sound okay but only if using vegetable oil; this is the first winter for my honeybees , we fed them honey after they arrived and as long as it is warm we still are feeding them so their stores are built up what about fondant
Powdered sugar dusting is effective if you dust both sides of each frame one a week throughout the season. You should do a sugar shake to see how many mites you actually have.
Some say sugar water is a good feed for the honeybees but my spoiled bees seem to prefer pasteurized honey and I was told pasteurized is best as ity reduces the risk of diseases that come from the honey. Can I just pasteurize it myself or not? Just wondered.
The greatest risk to honey bees by way of honey is American Foulbrood. Although the vegetative stage of AFB can be killed by pasteurization, the spores cannot. That is why, under no circumstances, should honey from another apiary be fed to your bees, unless you know for a fact the honey came from uninfected hives. Some estimates say that as much as 80% of all honey samples are contaminated with it, in part because of the mixing done by large commercial honey packaging houses. AFB spores can remain viable for 40 years.
Pasteurization does little to honey except destroy some of the nutritional value, flavor, and aroma. For more on this process, see this post.
I’m new and I left all the honey in my hives this year. Would you recommend using raw honey from a farmer’s market or store? I have been told not to feed my bees honey from outside sources due to the danger of spreading disease.
Thanks, I’ve learned a lot from your site.
Just make sure you trust the source. Personally, I would rather feed sugar than honey I purchased. Even if a beekeeper swears he doesn’t have foulbrood, he may be suppressing it with drugs. Just my thinking on it.
Now I have a couple more email addresses to look for oil, but finding this site I’ve had trouble locating wintergreen oil and I have ordered some peppermint oil. Will peppermint oil work? Other information I’ve gathered made it sound like almost any essential oil would work.
You can find just about any essential oil at 100pureessentialoils.com. Wintergreen oil has properties not found in peppermint oil. In fact, wintergreen oil is even toxic to humans, but peppermint oil is not.
Does that mean I would be wasting my time using peppermint oil, or only that it doesn’t work quite as well?
As far as I know, peppermint oil doesn’t work for this purpose. The active ingredient in wintergreen oil is methyl salicylate, which peppermint oil doesn’t have.
Wouldn’t turpentine work? [In the patties] it sure is way cheaper than essential oils. Must use 100% pure gum spirits, not the fake stuff. Also, flowers of sulfur [brimstone] seems to be a very good anti-parasitic. I’m not a beekeeper, just an interested observer. What about diatomaceous earth? This kills bed bugs. Maybe mix sulfur, DE and powdered sugar together as a dusting powder, like someone mentioned? Rusty, you mentioned wintergreen is methyl salicylate. Aspirin is also a salicylate, I’m pretty sure. Maybe ground up aspirin would work? What about borax? It kills ants when I add it to sweets [honey, maple syrup, etc] Maybe kill the bees too? Just some ideas for those looking for more…
The bees eat the patties. I don’t think turpentine, sulfur, and diatomaceous earth are good menu choices.
I’ve also seen some suggest 100% pure, which looks like it is therapeutic grade, and others say the oil must be food grade. Any thoughts?
I believe the company I mentioned carries both grades. Since there is food inside your hive and the possibility of contamination exists, I would go with food grade.
I am not feeding my bees any corn products (high fructose corn syrup or corn oil) because I think neonicotinoid pesticides are used a lot in corn crops.
Planet Therapy is a great source for essential oils, and they ship free in the US.
Can I use Apivar strips AND grease patties at the same time?
Yes, you can.
Hi Rusty! Hey is there something I can use besides corn oil? Like coconut oil? I have my doubts about corn anything any more plus I cannot find anything less than 48 oz of corn oil….thanks so much love your site!
I haven’t seen anything published on using different vegetable oils. I assume it would be fine, but you won’t know until you try it. If you go the organic section of your grocer, you can probably find small expensive bottle of organic corn oil.
Are there any essential oils that repel wax moth?
That would be nice, but I don’t know of any.
What are your thoughts regarding using Himalayan pink salt instead of mineral salt from the feed store? The Himalayan salt contains 84 different minerals! Thanks for sharing your information.
I’m sure it is an excellent choice.
I want to try this recipe with tea tree oil. Has anyone figured out how to make a small recipe for just one hive? Maybe a 1/4 recipe. 2.2 oz. oil divided by 4 would be ?? teas. Hope someone has figured this out. Thank you very much.
1 tbsp = .5 oz
3 tsp = 1 tbsp
1/4 of 2.2 oz = 0.55 oz, slightly more than a tablespoon
It’s just math.
Thank you. I did make the recipe with tea tree oil. It smells so strong I am sure it will kill the mites, can’t imagine it doesn’t make the little bee’s eyes water! 🙂 Hope it all works.
I use rooster booster powder in my 2:1 syrup in the fall along with vitamin B-12, ACV and lemon juice. I am wanting to use some in the grease patties instead of honey. Would I use about 1/4 as much do you think? I know I will have to experiment some.
Where did you get this idea? I assume bees and poultry must have different amino acid requirements, among other things. Have you done this is prior years?
This is my first fall trying it and the bees devoured it. One of the beekeepers in our area has been doing it with great success and he has 600 colonies. He only lost one small nuc last year through the winter (he had 300 colonies last year). I am a retired pharmacist and if I thought it would hurt my bees, I wouldn’t use it. I have always looked for natural treatments instead of just filling a prescription. I don’t use drugs on my bees. Only nutrients. I am currently running 50 colonies. But you didn’t answer my question. Hahahaha.
I did this for the first time this fall. The bees absolutely devoured it! I learned it from a fellow beek that has been doing it for a few years now. He had 300 colonies coming out of winter last year and only lost one nuc. Now he has 600 colonies. He said he’s working on something that will be even more earth shaking and will let us in on it next fall. Rooster Booster has salt, Potassium, Vit A, D-3, E, B-2, D, B-1,B-6, folic acid and lactobacillus, and, bifidobacterium. No amino acids. After giving it some thought, I’m not sure if the wintergreen will interact adversely with it. So if I want to add water to the grease patties instead of honey, will that work?
I’m still trying to track this down. When I go the the Rooster Booster website, they list quite a few different products. Am I correct in assuming you are using “Rooster Booster Vitamins & Electrolytes w/Lactobacillus?”
The purpose of the honey and/or wintergreen is to attract the bees to the feed. I’m not sure using water alone would do the trick.
Howdy again, Rusty. I had an idea with wintergreen oil. I’ve thought of mixing a quart of 1:1 sugar syrup and adding about 25 drops of wintergreen oil (similar to the wvu.edu report) and then lightly spraying it on my bees using a handheld bottle sprayer. I assume it would kill the varroa mites similar to how it worked with the WVU study, by contact and by licking it off each other. But I’m just concerned, Would this spray mix harm the queen? Would it make her stop/interrupt laying eggs or even leave the colony?
I’ve never heard that mites groom each other. I’ve read that the mite absorbs the essential oil through the chitin. In any case, I can’t answer your other questions and I don’t recommend using products in an experimental, off-label way, unless you are doing an actual experiment.
I have loved reading your site and the wealth of information here! I have a hive that is failing (tried requeening, but that didn’t work and there are so few bees now I don’t think a new queen is worth the effort) and I had a wintergreen patty in the hive until I put honey supers on. The bees aren’t filling the super, but I’m wondering if I can harvest some of the honey that’s in the deeps. I’m hesitant to do it because I had that grease patty in there. Does the toxic chemical in the wintergreen oil stick around or does it gradually dissipate?
Your suggestions on how I might salvage my hive is appreciated, that would be preferable, but even if I can’t save them I’d like to at least harvest some honey.
The amount of wintergreen oil in your patties is minuscule and won’t harm the honey. Remember, wintergreeen oil is used in human food as a flavoring compound, so in small quantities it is fine for human consumption. If you can actually taste the wintergreen in the honey, I would be very surprised.
Thanks for the great feed of information! My girls don’t have a bad bad mite problem but enough that I want to treat. A first year hive and my first hive, and so nervous about winter. I’m feeding because it really doesn’t seem like they have stored enough. Anyhow, I am going to try wintergreen grease patties. My question is: can I still feed my sugar water and or Honey b Healthy with the grease patties, or just do one or the other….
And then, when do I recheck for mites to see if the number is lower?
You can feed both at the same time, but I imagine the bees will be less inclined to eat the patties if they have syrup available.
To some small extent, grease patties can slow the increase in mite levels by eliminated some of them. However, wintergreen patties will not decrease a mite population that is large or growing. I would recommend a sugar roll test to determine the levels, and then treat with one of the “natural” remedies, if necessary. By natural I mean one based on thymol, formic acid, hop beta acid, or oxalic acid.
Thank you for the advice. I did a 48 hour sticky board test and the average mite count was about 20/day. Based on my research this did not seem like a bad infestation. My plan was to try the patties and do a recount in a week…. If you have thoughts on that, I would appreciate it
Another beekeeper recommended HopGuard 2… Not sure if you have used this with any success..
To me 20/day seems high. Since about 80% of mites are within capped brood, 20 is just the tip of the iceberg. You might try HopGuard II. I used it this year and saw an impressive mite drop after just a few hours.
What would you recommend?
I’m doing so much research on the mite thing, my head is spinning. So much information, often conflicting! This is my first hive and it’s going okay but hasn’t been overly productive, so already worried about winter survival. I am overwhelmed! But love my bees so will keep trudging onward.
Everyone does it differently. My way is just one way. But what I do is apply one of the soft treatments in August, such as ApiLife Var or HopGuard, and then apply oxalic acid near to the winter solstice, usually in the week between Christmas and New Years. That’s all I do for the year and I’ve been using this system for about ten years. I usually manage to overwinter 80-100% of my colonies.
Thank you! I’m sure I’ll be back with more questions. I really do appreciate your time!
Can you put grease patties between single square toilet paper on both sides?
The purpose of putting paper on the grease patties is to keep them from losing moisture and becoming hard and brittle. The main purpose of toilet paper is to absorb moisture. So using toilet paper would have just the opposite effect from the one you need. You should use something with a non-absorbent surface, such as wax paper.
Thank you, my husband always used toilet paper, I’m doing this on my I own. Lost him to cancer so I need all information I can get. I appreciate you answering my questions.
I’m sorry about your husband, but I’m happy to hear you are continuing on with the bees. Best wishes.
I have a fair amount of honey harvested from my 2 hives I lost last winter and want to give it back to my new bees. I could not figure out what plants the honey came from as it smelled and tasted very minty, I realized it was the sugar water that I had fed them last fall with Honey B Healthy. After reading that Honey B healthy is not good for people I saved it for the bees but do not know how to give it back to them. I had my dead bees tested and it was deformed wing virus so feel ok that the honey is safe. Could it work in a grease patty or is there a better way to feed it. I have 2 swarms and 2 hives we took out of buildings in June. I have given each at least one frame of honey but they will need help to get thru winter.
I think you could just put it in a jar feeder or a hive-top feeder. If it’s too thick, you can add a bit of water and they will dehydrate it again.
Rusty, hello, could you explain or show your winter hive set up. I live in Pennsylvania and I am always looking for the perfect or effective winter hive arrangement, thanks
I made made these patties and realized after I added them to the hive that I used wintergreen nature identical essential oil. Is that going to be an issue for them? I feel like it won’t actually kill mites?
It probably won’t matter since the patties don’t kill many mites anyway. It’s mostly the grease that makes it harder for mites to hang on to the bees, but even that doesn’t work especially well. Grease patties are used as part of an IPM program. Used together with other mite deterrents, they may help but they don’t do much on their own.
Wow! Lot of comments! I have to throw a wrench in the gears…. Anyway to use this in a top bar hive?
I just place them on the top bars, the same way as in a Langstroth. Of course, some top-bar hives don’t have much room up there.
Great write up thank you. This might be a strange question but is this something you can use all year round as mite control??? I do treat for mites twice a year but in between treatments is this something that also can be used?
First, I think the number of mites that might be negatively affected by grease patties is negligible. Also, as I explained in the post, you don’t want essential oils in your hive when honey supers are present. So, the short answer is no, don’t use grease patties in spring and summer.
I learned about grease patties in my beginning beekeeping class several years ago. The instructor said to use Crisco and a little wintergreen essential oil. I make a homemade version of HBH and add a couple of tablespoons per gallon of sugar water that I feed to the bees during times of dearth. I buy essential oils from http://www.planttherapy.com. Shipping is free. I’ve been keeping bees about 5 years and haven’t had problems with mites or SHB.
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