Navigate / search




Great information, and I love your sense of humor!


Thanks, it’s great to be appreciated!


Is this in place of sugar cakes? Is this in addition to sugar cakes along side them?


Side dish.

nick holmes

Hmmm . . . wintergreen, I wonder if it is that which knocks down the varroa. It’s kind of like the thyme oil used in so many other varroa ‘solutions’.


From the post, “Grease patties help control winter mites:”

“Essential oils have a repellent effect on the mites. In addition, some research indicates that if mites come into direct contact with wintergreen or tea tree oil it can kill them outright or interfere with their breeding cycle.”

nick holmes

Can you use normal table salt?


The point of using mineral salt is to add minerals to their diet. In the spring and summer bees get minerals from water and from nectar, but if they are out of honey and not flying for water, they become low on minerals. Both table sugar and table salt are refined and stripped of all extra minerals.

john carey

Rusty, I tried making my own sugar boards this year by boiling sugar & water & then spreading on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. It worked okay, but I need to tweak it a little. I don’t know if I used too much water, or just didn’t boil it enough, but it started to melt when it got in the sun. Also, the wax paper melted onto the cookie sheets & pretty much ruined them for any kind of cooking. I then put the sugar boards on top of a queen excluder when I put them in the hives hoping that would allow the bees easy access to it. I haven’t opened the hives up since I did that, so I am not sure if it worked okay, or if it just made a big sticky mess, but I will say that all of my hives where very active today as I was watching them.

I had thought about trying to collect some goldenrod pollen next fall & mixing it with the sugar water, maybe that help hold it together & give them some pollen also. Any thoughts?



Read this, all the way to the end:

Lindy van der Meulen

Hello Rusty,

I hope things can get calmer with your bees soon and that you can find enough supplementary food for them. I have a question regarding protection against mites. I am trying to become a bio-dynamic bee looker-afterer. I mean interfere as little as possible with the natural way of being of the bees. Use no chemicals and not harvest much honey etc.

Last Tuesday evening I went to a bio dynamic beekeepers presentation about drones. My regular bee mentor had said that day that it was time for me to do the ethanol preparation against varroa. I asked my colleague bio dy’s and although they tried not to use this stuff, some of them felt in order to get their bees through all the perils it was necessary, and if your bees are situated near bees from regular beekeepers then you have the responsibility to those people not to have explosions of varroa in our hives because we don’t treat with stronger chemicals than wintergreen, tea tree, lavender, lemon grass that sort of thing.

Do you have any topics regarding these standpoints on honeybeesuite or is anyone interested in it too. I don’t know if ethanol treatment is the right translation of oxaalzuur but it is available for instance in great amounts in rhubarb and parsley so perhaps you know the right translation. Hope to hear from you soon.




Ethanol is ethyl alcohol, the kind of alcohol humans drink in beer, wine, whiskey, etc. I’ve never heard of it being used on bees. I know bees get “drunk,” which is why fermented honey is not good for them.

Oxaalzuur is made from oxalic acid, which is a colorless, crystalline, toxic organic compound belonging to the family of carboxylic acids. Vaporized oxalic acid, or a 3.2% solution of oxalic acid in sugar syrup, is used by some beekeepers as a miticide against the parasitic varroa mite.

It is not approved as a varroacide in the U.S., although a lot of beekeepers use it anyway. I would say it is similar to formic acid in the way it kills mites.

Biodynamic beekeeping is similar to our “organic” beekeeping in many ways. I’ve written about both here on my site; you can use the search box to find the articles.

Lindy van der Meulen

C2H2O4 Me again …. How silly not to have just done the formula… This is the stuff Dutch beekeepers use when temperatures outside the hives are not higher than 5 degree celsius. Do you know of it and what do you think if a person is trying to by bio dynamic with the bees should you or shouldn’t you use this?

Kindest regards,


That is oxalic acid. I don’t use commercial miticides, but I also don’t use formic acid or oxalic acid. We are diving into personal opinion here, but I think formic and oxalic are too hard on the bees. I think of them as “mean” chemicals. I much prefer the softer ones, such as thymol or hop beta acids. Many beekeepers will disagree with me on this, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

nick holmes

I think oxalic acid is quite harsh, and I’ve recently had people who have tried it questioning its effectiveness. But what is does is pretty vicious, it melts their shells. Now that’s not biodynamic IMHO, and more so if it does that to mites… ‘allegedly’ it damages the mouth parts on bees.


I absolutely agree. I didn’t want to say it (oh well) but I don’t consider it biodynamic or organic . . . didn’t want to start a war, but there it is.

Steve Craig

I want to make these patties, but have a problem. First, where can I buy the wintergreen? I was surpirsed that it was not in the bee catalogs. I checked on Amazon and the oil is expensive and there are several kinds. Per Amazon info, the one for candy is supposed to be 4 times stronger. 2.2 oz sounds like a lot since the Lorann candy version comes in a small .125 oz (1 dram) bottle. For human candy we use drops and not ounces. I want to make sure I use the correct oil and not break the bank or hurt the bees. Can you provide some guidance on this oil?



I buy it at 100 Pure Essential Oils. In fact I buy all my essentials oils from this place because they offer good service, good selection, excellent products, and what I believe are fair prices.


What thickness should I aim for?



Mine are about 3/4-inch; you could even leave them in balls. Thinner patties dry out faster.

Gona Kikbuty

We used wintergreen oil to dissolve rust on bolts while I was in the Navy (80’s). It tended to splatter when we would eventually get the nut loose. Once it’s on the skin you can taste it for about 3 days afterward.


How large (size) of a single grease pattie is needed for winter mite prevention. Using your recipe. I have a two brood 8 frame hive, approx. 30,000-31,000 bees.


You answered my question above under the directions dah!

Chris Maher

The photograph of the winter feeder appeared to have a screen ladder for the bees to access the syrup. I would like to build a feeding frame. Please describe how the bees get to the syrup? And is the bottom of the tray solid or screened? Thank you.



If you go back to the post about feeding syrup in winter, and go to the end of the comments, there is a video showing how to do it.


Hi Rusty,
What time of year would you do this? I’m assuming just throw it bee-tween top and bottom deeps or maybe 1/2 a patty for a single? Thank you.



It depends on your climate, but I would put them on top of the upper brood box around the time of the first freeze.


In the fall of 2015, I made two types of grease patties, one with mineral salt and the same recipe without salt. My observation in seven hives: in one month, the bees had not worked on any of the grease patties made with the mineral salt, but had been working on the others.

According to the label, mineral salt for cattle has as the first three ingredients: salt, zinc oxide, cane molasses. With further research, I found an article from the American Bee Journal that references the toxicity of both sodium chloride and cane molasses for honey bees. (Considering the recent post on the dangers of HMF in cooked fondant could this explain the toxicity of the cane molasses?)

Do we have a safer/better source for minerals to supplement the grease patties?

Considerations in Selecting Sugars for Feeding to Honey Bees American Bee Journal, February, 1977, Vol. 117 (2): 76, 77



I always use plain mineral salt, certainly not mixed with molasses, which is known to cause honey bee dysentery, and I use only a very smalltiny quantity. After using it for about ten years, and having excellent overwintering results, I don’t plan to change. Salt is vital to all animal life, although there can be too much of a good thing, as we all know. I still use the crushed bunny wheels, although I think unprocessed sea salt, like the gray or pink, would work just as well.

In nature, honey bees collect their minerals from wet soil, brackish or standing water, and pollen. If you are unhappy with giving them salt, don’t. You can give them pollen and they will probably pick up the rest of their minerals from wherever they collect water.