UPDATE: I've updated the recipe to exclude honey as it was brought to my attention that feeding honey to bees is not recommended. The original recipe included honey and comes from Gunther Hauk author of Toward Saving the Honeybee and co-founder of Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary. He has 4 decades of experience working with and saving honeybees and has tested his bee tea recipe for over 20 years.
We have bees again! After losing our hive last year, we are so happy to have another in the yard again. I'm not exactly sure why we lost the last hive, but I plan on being a more vigilant beekeeper this time around. The new ladies (worker bees are all female!!!) arrived on a dreary wet and cold Monday, so we kept them inside overnight still in their nuc box and installed them yesterday. It was still quite cold and windy but at least they were dry.
I'm no expert at beekeeping but am learning as I go and will share my backyard beekeeping adventures with you here from time to time. Bees are amazing little creatures and are so vital to our food systems. The decline of the honeybee populations around the world is a very scary thing. Planting flowers for honeybees and other pollinators is one of the best ways to help save the bees. We are patiently waiting for the spring to warm up so we can sow our new garden with many flowers and herbs that the bees will love.
Years ago I heard of herbal bee tea through the Mountain Rose Herbs blog. The original healing tea for honeybees recipe came from Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary. I adapted their recipe to make a herbal feed syrup for our bees because they have little to forage from outside right now, and they need to stay in the hive for a while to get it established.
Herbal Bee Feed
- 4 cups organic white sugar
- 4 cups well or spring water
- ½ teaspoon dried chamomile blossoms
- ½ teaspoon dried nettle
- ½ teaspoon dried peppermint
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried lemon balm
- pinch of good quality high mineral salt such as Himalayan pink salt
- Prepare an infusion of the dried herbs in 2 cups of boiling water. Let herbs steep in water in a covered vessel for 10 minutes.
- In a ½ gallon mason jar, dissolve sugar and salt in 2 cups of warm water - not boiling.
- Strain herbal tea through a strainer or cloth and add tea to the sugar water.
- Stir everything together and let cool to room temp before feeding to bees.