We’ve talked about how to deter bees, this time let’s talk about attracting them. If you’re a beekeeper, bee handler, honey farmer, or even just a gardener that’s enthusiastic about growing your flower patch, then you’ll find that there are several benefits in using lemongrass oil to attract bees.
Why Attract Bees
There are a lot of reasons why you would want to attract bees to your garden or backyard. Bees are docile creatures, meaning they only ever attack when they feel there is an imminent threat to their swarm or queen.
Attracting them does a lot of good for your garden, flower, or fruit patch as they are one of the most efficient pollinators.
It’s great to see that more and more people are becoming more interested in beekeeping and bee handling and some are even cultivating it as a casual hobby; some are also interested in harvesting their liquid gold—honey. This is important as the world is going through a natural pollinator crisis with populations of many bee species facing a very rapid decline.
Beekeeping, professional or casual, and maintaining a pollinator garden is a great way to maintain bee populations and ensure their survivability. Employing methods to make these friendly little critters come to you goes a long way to help them (and us).
We Need Bees
Bees are considered a keystone species—meaning their presence (or absence) is usually a sign of how healthy a certain ecosystem is. Attracting bees to your vicinity would very much help and offer a lot of benefits to the surrounding ecosystem, especially when they are responsible for pollinating 70 of 100 crops that provide about 90% of the world’s food. So their importance in the ecology can’t be emphasized enough.
How Do Essential Oils Attract Bees?
Essential oils are a great natural way to attract and keep bees stimulated, without the use of any synthetic chemicals. These oils are extracted from actual flowers, leaves, roots and other plant parts, so these are chock full of naturally occurring organic compounds that bees and other bugs encounter in the wild.
Essential oils contain certain active chemicals that bees pick up enticing them to come near to it. Oils like lemongrass do a very good job of naturally attracting bees.
Lemongrass Oil Attracts Bees
Lemongrass oil is considered one of the best oils to do the job of luring bees and encouraging them to move in and make a hive. Lemongrass oil contains compounds called citral that mimic the nasonov pheromone that scout bees and their queen give off to signal the swarm to move into a place and create a hive.
Lemongrass oil is also a very potent antifungal and antiviral which makes it very useful for beekeepers. It helps keep the hive free from viral diseases and fungus that can harm the swarm.
How To Use Lemongrass Essential Oil to Attract Bees
To effectively use lemongrass oil to lure bees, you must first set up a swarm trap or nucleus box, or beehive box. There are premade ones you can buy online or from your local bee farm, or you can DIY your own beehive box.
These boxes ensure that the bees move in a closed, relatively safe environment for them to create a hive. More seasoned beekeepers recommend putting a honeycomb in the box as well.
To use the lemongrass oil to attract bees in the trap, sprinkle a few drops of pure lemongrass oil around the entire box and make sure to add a few drops by the entrance of the bee box so they know where to enter. You can also go ahead and smear a drop on the honeycomb inside the box.
Use this sparingly though. You might be able to attract scout bees to the box but it might not be enough to entice them to call their swarm to move in the lure. In this case, you really would need a bit of patience, trial-and-error. Top up the lemongrass oil on the box when you notice that the aroma of the oil has depleted. Another way you can effectively lure bees with lemongrass oil scent and make it last for a bit longer is by putting some on absorbent paper, tissue or cotton ball and placing on the lure.
It could take several days, even weeks before the bees would consider moving into the trap box and create a hive. You can also go ahead and try other methods like creating a lure with beeswax.
Lemongrass oil with Beeswax Lure Recipe
Aside from using pure lemongrass oil, you can also prepare a lure recipe with pure beeswax. Beeswax is a naturally occurring wax created by bees themselves so using this alongside lemongrass oil increases the likelihood that you’ll attract a swarm to your box.
Here’s the recipe for the lemongrass oil with beeswax lure:
- 2 tbsps beeswax
- ~40-50 drops of lemongrass oil
Melt beeswax in a double boiler. Once melted, remove from heat and add 40-50 drops of lemongrass oil. Let it cool.
You can go ahead and smear this lure mixture around the hive box, making sure to add a bit on the entrance.
Things To Remember
As previously stated, bees can be very picky on where they move in. It’s important to buy or create a well-constructed box or else the bees wouldn’t move in the trap. You could be putting a ton of lemongrass oil on your bee box but if the bees won’t consider it a great place to move in, they just won’t call in their swarm.
If you don’t already know, where you place your beehive box is extremely important to their survival. Here are a few reminders:
- Your beehive box should receive adequate sunlight but they also need some shade. Place the box somewhere they can get some early morning sunlight to encourage them to go out and forage and some light shade in the afternoon.
- The bee box should be elevated to keep moisture from the ground to seep in the hive. But don’t make it too high that the bees would have a hard time flying up to the box.
- A water source like a bird bath should be nearby. Hard workers as they are, bees need water, too!
Another factor it could take them a while to move into your lure is you could be attracting bees from multiple competing hives. Bees need to make sure that wherever they are moving in is unoccupied or has not been ‘claimed’ by other bee swarms. Again, it takes a bit of patience. Bees will move in when they are sure they are safe.
Other Essential Oils for Bees
Lemongrass oil is but one of the many essential oils beekeepers use in handling and taking care of bees. There are many other essential oils for bees that provide them many benefits.
Tea tree oil is a potent deterrent against pests and other bugs that can harm a beehive. It’s also a powerful antifungal treatment to use against nosema—a deadly fungal disease that can affect an entire beehive.
Lavender is one of a bee’s favorite flowers and lucky for them its oil is something that benefits their colony as well. Lavender oil is used to prevent and treat American Foulbrood Disease (AFB). AFB is a bacterial disease that can affect honey bee pupae and weaker bees.
Wintergreen oil is another essential oil must-have for beekeepers. It’s a potent deterrent against mites and insects that can harm the bee colony, and can also be used against AFB. Tea tree oil is used to prevent mold and fungus growth.
Thyme oil is another oil considered to be a beekeeper’s best friend as it’s a very effective natural alternative to synthetic chemicals in controlling the population of the very infamous Varroa mites.
Bees are the unsung heroes to many species, including us humans. We rely on their work of pollinating a significant percentage of the food we eat. However their very survival is also on the brink because of human activity.
Great thing we’re starting to realize how important they are to the ecology and more people are getting into beekeeping and helping take care of a hive in their backyards. Using natural essential oils like lemongrass oil to attract them to a box and helping them thrive in your backyard garden goes a long way in making sure they can continue their good work.