Essential Oil Therapy vs Mites

Varroa Mites

Essential oils, in regards to mite control, have two apparent modes of operation, primarily, direct toxicity. In the case of varroa mites, once a mite comes in to direct contact with an essential oil such as wintergreen or tea tree oil mixed into a grease patty they are usually killed within a few minutes. This however, requires that the infected bee actually contact the grease patty. Due to this contact requirement, direct toxicity cannot eliminate mites, only aid in the control of mite levels. Secondly, it appears mite reproduction can be impaired when bees are fed a syrup containing essential oils. Essential oils are passed from feeding bees to other bees and larva through trophallaxis. Essential oils thereby pass to the brood and poison any female Varroa that attempt to parasitically feed on the larva.

Tracheal Mites

Similarly, essential oils appear to have an impact on the breeding and control of tracheal mites, however the effects of tracheal mites are difficult to observe and the mechanism that causes the control is in debate. It appears that the best therapy, in regards to tracheal mites and essential oils, is the usage of grease patties.


It is recommended that that grease patties containing essential oils, and other medicaments as desired, are kept on the hives throughout the winter and any season when honey collection for human consumption is not taking place. Grease patties not containing any essential oils or medication should be kept on hives throughout the rest of the year. During times of the year that temperatures allow for flight, and honey is not to being collected for human consumption, colonies should be treated with syrup containing essential oils.


2 thoughts on “Essential Oil Therapy vs Mites

  1. grease patties and pollen patties are different. Here’s a great website that has a recipe to make a grease patty.

    You MUST use food grade essential oils for your bees, do NOT buy oil used for aromatherapy, it can contain ingredients toxic to bees.

    This website has recipes for adding oil to your sugar solution.

    I have only used lavender in a spray and on my gloves as a bee calming agent.

    If you use the oil in a feeding solution, I’d love to hear updates from you, Jan, on how it’s working.

    Great idea!!

  2. Is a grease patty and pollen patty the same thing? I’m putting a drop of wintergreen oil on 1″ strips of pollen patty in the hive to ward off small hive beetles it seems to be working.

    Which oils are used in sugar syrup feed and how much?
    Could you put (type of oil, amount?) in 1:1 ratio/sugar:water and spray the bees to stop varroa mites?

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