Local Bee Rescuer’s Fave Beekeeping Essential Oils
By Caryn Gehlmann, Clinical Aromatherapist
We can’t have essential oils without our pollinators. So it makes sense that in addition to being a clinical aromatherapist, I’m a beekeeper, the two are definitely intertwined. I’ve done a lot of research on beekeeping essential oils but there’s always more to learn. I’ve been so inspired by a local bee rescuer, Rafael Aragon, that I wanted to share some of his tips with you.
How long have you been a bee rescuer?
I’ve been rescuing bees since August 23, 2013. I run my business, Aragon HoneyBee Rescue, here in the beautiful Rogue Valley. The reason I call myself a bee rescuer, rather than a beekeeper, is I’m not in it for the money, even though that helps to run the business. By this I mean if I have a surplus of bees or colonies, I will sell those to others that I trust. I understand why some beekeepers transport bees, sometimes thousands or more hives at a time, hundreds of miles away, to pollinate mono-crops, such as almonds, but I don’t believe it’s the healthiest option for the bees or the environment.
I rescue bees/swarms that would otherwise be sprayed when they are discovered in an area where they aren’t welcome. They are rescued and provided with a home where they can be bees. I’m very fond of my bees, who I call “my girls” and do everything in my power to keep them safe. Every year is different from the last and I love to learn and rescue swarms of bees or abandoned hives. Last year I rescued 90-plus swarms of bees. We will see what this year brings.
Do you have favorite beekeeping essential oils or any other kind of natural method to keep your hives healthy? Please explain.
As a natural beekeeper/rescuer, I use essential oils all the time in my colonies. I use e3’s oils, such as Wintergreen, Spearmint, Thyme and Lemongrass. I use some of these oils in my supplemental feed which is basically a product I purchase from a trusted local company that mimics nectar, much better than feeding them plain sugar water. The benefits of essential oils are in the controlling of tracheal & varroa mites. It also helps with nosema (dysentery in bees), helps with queen introduction (virgin queens, since I raise my own queens), and helps the syrup not get moldy and grow bacteria.
Lemongrass oil is used to rescue swarms of bees. Lemongrass mimics the pheromone of bees. A word of caution is to use these oils very sparingly since they can overwhelm the bees.
If not sure how to use oils, ask a fellow beekeeper who uses beekeeping essential oils. I also use oxalic acid and formic pro to control varroa mites, when I feel it is necessary. I also have my own lavender field. This is how I first met the e3 team and Caryn, thanks to one of her lavender workshops that my mom was invited to. I currently grow four species of lavender. I also burn the dried stalks after the lavender blooms to calm the bees when working them, even the touchy colonies are calmed by the lavender smoke.
Do you personally use any e3 products? What are your favorites?
I use the Wash Wash Wash hand soap, Surface Sanitizer and hand sanitizer daily. I’m also grateful for the calming Love Your Pet spray that is offered by e3 when my pet (border collie) is in a new environment or left alone. When my border collie was a puppy, I used e3 Peppermint oil to calm his car sickness. My all-time favorite oil to use from e3 is Lavender, no matter what genus it is from. I share all my lavender oil with my family, especially my mom, who is like me in loving the smell of lavender.
How can the average person help promote a healthy bee population?
The number one thing is STOP using pesticides to kill weeds and other beneficial insects/bugs. There are natural/alternative methods that are more effective and won’t harm our pollinators, especially our girls (honey bees). Remember, without them nothing will survive. Plant a garden, either vegetables or flowers to attract honeybees and other pollinators, that aren’t treated with pesticides. It’s important to plant flora that blooms at different times of the year, especially in summer, fall and winter. Also, if you have land consider adopting hives (all care provided by the beekeeper) or offer your land to a local beekeeper. We are always looking for new areas. Use organic and pesticide-free treated seeds.
I love Rafael’s passion for bees! If you want to learn more about some of these beekeeping essential oils, you can get suggestions on my blog on how to use essential oils for beehive mites and mold. Or feel free to reach out to me with your questions — I love connecting with fellow beekeepers.
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