Lemongrass oil is possibly the most versatile of the essential oils that are commonly used with honeybees. It is useful in the treatment of certain mites and diseases in beehives and can also be used as a nutritional supplement and as a lure in swarm traps.
Lemongrass oil mimics the attractant pheromone of honeybees. This property is effective when trying to trap migrating bees, but it requires careful use with weaker hives. The scent can lure robber bees to the hive and a weakened colony may be unable to defend itself.
Lemongrass essential oil may be used to treat Varroa mite and tracheal mites, as well as a preventative measure for Nosema disease. The oil has both anti-fungal and anti-viral properties that many beekeepers find effective in treating mites. These properties can also help your bees ward off infections and prevent the spread of any illness that they do catch.
How to use Lemongrass Oil in a Honeybee Lure
If you are looking to add a new honeybee colony to your apiary, a lemongrass lure can serve as a suitable tool for this endeavor. Beekeepers with some woodworking skills may be able to put together their own lure with just a few plywood boards. A regular beehive box or a commercially made swarm trap will also work just as well. If you choose to make your own lure, weight and size should be carefully considered since you will be moving the lure around while it is full of bees, but it must also be large enough to accommodate an entire bee swarm.
To set your lure, rub two to three drops of lemongrass oil around the entrance and place or hang the lure about ten feet off the ground to attract migrating swarms. If you place honeycomb inside the lure, you may also add a single drop of lemongrass oil on the comb. To keep the lemongrass lure well-scented for a longer period of time, you can put a few drops of lemongrass oil on some absorbent paper to slowly release the oil into the lure. Check the lure twice a week or more for swarms and quickly relocate any trapped colonies to a permanent location. For best results, place the lure out one month before the beginning of the spring nectar flow in your area.
Check out some more information about using essential oils in beekeeping below