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Esssential Oils - Myth or Fact?

honey bee essential oils
When I was an HVAC controls tech there were what we called 'tech myths.'

These were magical fixes to problems which really didn't work. They were a result of poor troubleshooting. There are a number of these in the beekeeping world. And would you be surprised to hear that beekeepers have strong opinions about them? One of them is about essential oils.

So I wrote to Dr. Jamie Ellis at The Classroom of the American Bee Journal.

"
Is there any evidence that essential oil solutions have benefit bee health? Or is this one the things which make beekeepers rather than bees happy?"

He responded:

"Funny that you ask. I have these same questionsJ. To be honest, I have not seen much research on this topic. I am aware that many beekeepers use these types of products and tout all the benefits they see their colonies have. However, many of these products have not been tested independently by scientists so much of what we know about benefits from using them is purely anecdotal. Sometimes anecdotal reports are the best ones. They represent an assessment beekeepers make from repeated use in the field. However, I would like to see large scale studies before I begin to make broad recommendations. Until then, I always tell beekeepers that they can conduct smaller studies themselves. Put a commercially available product to the test. Follow the label and apply it to half of your hives and not to the other half. Then, compare health, productivity, strength, etc. between the two groups. Far too often, beekeepers purchase a product, give it to all their colonies, and then proclaim that “it works”. However, it is impossible to know if it works unless you have an equally large group of colonies that do not receive the treatment. For me, the jury is still out with these products. You might consider giving one a try and letting me know what you find."

There, my friends, you have the definitive answer. Who knows?