We have bees again! After loosing 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 there 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 many flowers and herbs that the bees will love.
Below is a little how-to video I made of the herbal bee feed. It’s short and sweet, please have a look! Coming up next is another video featuring one of my favorite springtime ingredients: rhubarb! So fellow rhubarb lovers keep your eyes open for it!
Do any of you keep bees? Would love to hear from you in the comments!
Recipe after the jump…
Herbal Honeybee Feed
Yield 2 quarts
Years ago I heard of herbal bee tea through the mountain rose herbs blog. The recipe came from the wonderful honeybee sanctuary, Spikenard Farm. 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.
- 3 cups organic white sugar
- 1 cup good (local) raw honey
- 4 cups well or spring water
- 1/2 teaspoon dried chamomile blossoms
- 1/2 teaspoon dried nettle
- 1/2 teaspoon dried peppermint
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried lemon balm
- pinch of good quality high mineral salt such as Himalayan pink salt
- drop of lemongrass essential oil
- drop of spearmint essential oil
- 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 1/2 gallon sized mason jar, dissolve sugar, honey and salt in 2 cups of warm water - not boiling
- strain herbal tea through a strainer or cloth and add tea to the sugar mix. add essential oils.
- stir everything together and let cool to room temp before feeding to bees.
Other herbs to add: yarrow, hyssop, fresh dandelion flowers (2), echinacea, rue
You can replace the sugar with all honey, which is better for the bees, but because honey is more pricey I used a mixture of the two. Make sure to add at least some honey to add complex sugars to the simple ones.
Organic white sugar is suggested as succanat and rapadura contain too many organic compounds for the bees to digest easily.
A pinch of good salt is added to aid in digestion of the sugar
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