plant mint to ward off mites?

thisbud4u(San Diego)September 21, 2006

Not sure if this works, but it sounds good. A beekeeper friend says he plants a big bed of flowering mint (not sure what kind) in front of his beehives. Apparently the bees stop at the mint flowers on their way in and out of the hive and the mint oil from the flowers apparently wards off mites. Anybody know if this is really useful? If so, I'll plant some spearmint and peppermint in front of my hives.

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txbeeguy(z8 TX)

I'd do an internet search on this topic before you spend a lot of time planting things in front of your hives. A little "up front" research may influence your decision, yea or nay. Over the years, there have been proponents of many different "remedies" to the mite problems. (Not to mention the sizeable number of research dollars spent by both government agencies and private pharmaceutical companies). I've seen everything from Oil of Wintergreen to Formic Acid suggested for use in hives to control the mite problems. And for as long as we've had the mites with us now, if something as simple as growing a certain plant in front of the hives were effective, I would dare say it would be common knowledge and universally done by every beekeeper. A little dose of healthy skepticism would seem appropriate in this case.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 12:06PM
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thisbud4u(San Diego)

"...if something as simple as growing a certain plant in front of the hives were effective, I would dare say it would be common knowledge and universally done by every beekeeper."

Well, maybe, and your advice is certainly well-taken, but I think you might be giving common sense way too much credit. I mean, if a simple act of refraining from smoking cigarettes could prevent the ravages of lung cancer, I dare say that every American would know better than to inhale. Using a bee-example, beestings were first recommended as a cure for arthritis back in the 1950s, but the German doctor who recommended this simple and effective cure was tossed out of the country by a government that, I dare say, was more willing to listen to the ravings of the AMA than to look at the results of this amazingly effective treatment. So, you're advice is good. I'll do more research, but my beekeeper neighbors did manage to get rid of varoaa mites with oil of peppermint---it really did work, so I'm hopeful at least.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 8:43PM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

I have not responded to this until now.

So here goes...

There is no evidence that mints, candies, even essential oils do anything to control mites. Thymol, from the thyme plant does, but in strong enough doses it kills bees, and people. Although organic, it's hardly harmless.

sometimes mite counts are just low, and sometimes they are there but we don't go looking for them.

now soemthing that does cause mites to fall off is powdered sugar... not the confectioners sugar in the star that has corn starch for anti caking properties, real powdered sugar that you make by putting a cup of granulated beet sugar in the blender and whacking the heck out of it.

lift out ever brood frame and lay side to be treated up. Sprinkle sugar using a stainless parmesan shaker over the bees wherever there is brood or eggs.

Repeat 7 days later, then 7 dates later.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 6:46PM
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There are probably a dozen products on the market now for control of varroa, several more not on the market (oxalic acid, wintergree and other essential oils, formic acid, white vinegar, mineral oil, etc.), and non chemical controls (drone culling, screened bottom boards, etc.) Some work, some don't (including the commercially available solutions!). Some work but not at high enough efficacy rates to be the only solution necessary for control.

The important thing with any of these is "do you know if they worked?" Due to resistance and environmental conditions (temperature, broodlessness) needed for some treatments, every one should be suspect until you test for mites and find it did work.

Did you use checkmite last year? I know one beekeeper locally who did and had big winter losses and lots of mites in spring. He didn't do any testing so we'll never know for sure, but based on the results and info from another beekeeper in the area who did test and found it didn't work, I'd guess the commercially available and approved treatment was just as good as treating with a can of beer.

I've heard similar tales when checkmite resistance first showed up in CA. Beekeepers who tested after treatment had time to try something else. Those (the majority) who depended on it to work without question lost bees.

I have heard the mint plant come up before, but I'd be skeptical simply because I've never heard anyone actually trying to treat with mint extract or oil.

But if you want to give it a try, I'd do it with a few hives and test thoughout the season. If mites get heavy enough that treatment is necessary, then treat them some other way. And then, test them after the treatment to make sure it worked. Never assume a treatment worked, homebrew or commercial.

And ditto on the 'organic does not equal harmless'. Niteshade anybody?


    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 1:19PM
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I don't know what effects mint might have on mites, but what effect would it have on the flavor of the honey? I have a bit of mint growing wild at my place, and the bees were just all over it! This is our first year raising bees, and our first honey crop (taken this weekend) was just a beautiful gold color and the flavor was nice. (We assume it was the goldenrod that grow plentiful around here in NW PA)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 8:35AM
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They certainly do like working the mints. Use to have several different varieties in the garden. Don't expect the honey to taste anything like the fruit the plant bears or even the smell of the plant itself. The necter often has no relation to either. (Probably a good thing as the bees also like working poison ivy :) Take any of your floral honeys. They all have distinct flavors, but blueberry honey doesn't tast like blueberries, orange blossom doesn't taste like oranges, etc.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 12:43PM
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Yes Tim, I guess I DID know that and had a momentary lapse in concentration. (I get that often) as I mentioned, we are new to beekeeping and its all weird to me! As I said our honey was so light and golden we figured they were working the goldenrod and wildflowers in the area. Our other local beekeeper gave us some honey that was very dark, he said it was from the buckwheat field on his property. It kind of reminded me of molassas! I guess that's what happened to get me thinking of the flavor of honey.

Thanks for the info on Checkmite resistance. We just used it early this summer but our bees seem to be doing great with it so far. We bought our colonies locally here in Pa. and it is what the state bee inspector recommended.
I suppose I will plant some more mint around (although I probably wont need to actually plant it for it spreads like a wildfire) and if it wards off the mites....Great! and if it doesn't, at least the girls got a treat.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 6:44PM
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i've heard of hives in the middle of big thyme patches doing better against mites

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 10:48AM
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I'm reading these forums with great interest, pondering the possibility of keeping bees myself. One of the tools used in arthropod husbandry - keeping tarantulas, true spiders, millipedes, centipedes, scorpions, etc. as display animals - are predatory mites. These feed on the parasitic mites which plague the host, eating the entire parasite population is depleted. They are not themselves parasitic, and die off once their food supply is gone.

Just a thought.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 10:33PM
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thisbud4u(San Diego)

fescuedream, well, of course the 64 billion dollar question for me is: Are there known predatory mites which feed on the Varroa mite that attacks our furry bee friends?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 3:32AM
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I agree, that is the question. The mites mentioned for the arthropod hobby trade prey on very specific types of parasitic mites. My interest in beekeeping is very new, but I have some exposure to the other hobby and thought I'd share it. Obviously I wouldn't deign to be the first with this idea for a trade that's been around for centuries (beekeeping/honey production). But it is worth investigating - maybe there is such a species.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 8:31PM
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Found this. Granted, not a predatory mite, but an alternative Asian species of bee:

By Otto Boecking, Institut für Landwirtschaftliche, Germany

Varroa jacobsoni is a predatory mite that lives on honeybees. In recent years it has been spread throughout the world by beekeepers. It is now the worst bee disease of Apis mellifera. However, Varroa jacobsoni does not show notable disturbance of the Asiatic hive bee Apis cerana. Therefore in Apis cerana beekeeping, treatments against Varroa are not necessary. Varroa jacobsoni regularly infest Apis cerana colonies, yet many Apis cerana beekeepers have never seen a Varroa mite in their colonies! Apis cerana and Varroa have built up a balanced host-parasite interrelation in which neither the bees nor the mites completely kill the other species.. Varroa jacobsoni cannot reproduce in worker brood. ... Varroa does reproduce successfully in both drone and worker brood of Apis mellifera bees and can build large mite populations during the whole brood rearing season.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 8:50PM
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As a retired bee keeper I can tell you I have tried everthing and nothing works a 100% I know one person who has buckfast bees who not only has excellent survial rate but also makes and sells spits every year.In zone 3 and 4 to overwinter and not lose many and be mite almost free says a lot for buckfast bees.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 12:47PM
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I'm not sure which state you live in, or why no one has mentioned this yet, but in Ohio it is ILLEGAL to use ANY unregistered chemical IN a or not....check with the dept of ag in your state about the laws governing apiculture.

So, planting mint around the hives will make your beeyard smell nice but I doubt it will help the bees.

Your neighbor who uses only mint to treat v. mites is probably not telling you everything. I have heard many beekeepers make claims about mint, teatree oil and such.
They say how good it works, meanwhile, they buy new packages of bees every year to replace the winter kill.....Maybe, just maybe, the beekeeper should call it what it is, loss to mites......I am a bee inspector for 3 counties in ohio and personally know 250 beekeepers. Not one of them uses mint (on the outside of the hive) to treat mites inside the hive....

behind my house is 40 acres of wild mint, pepper, speara, and mountain mint, and cowmit, and catmint....I have never seen so much mint! you can smell it everywhere you step...
I have plenty of mites.....Good Luck

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 1:32PM
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