Honeyflow.com | FAQ's | Community |

It's official- worst Spring for bees in SA in decades


I’m curious about this idea of feeding banana to bees. I had always understood that banana and bees should not mix, and that for example you should not approach hives eating or after eating banana. This is because the banana flavour is the same chemical as the bee alarm/sting phermone, Isoamyl acetate. Did you notice more agression in your bees?

Chalkbrood will naturally disappear as the colony gets stronger.


There has been a lot of discussion on this forum about bananas. Personally, I would never use them, but others swear by it. Rusty Burlew wrote quite a good summary of her opinion here:


Thanks. I didn’t know that was a ‘thing’ and I can’t see any nutritional reason to do it. For me the phermone aspect is important and would be the only explaination for effects, if there are any.
I have seen reports, also anecdotal, that agressive colonies do better than docile ones. Adding alarm phermone to a colony on a semi permanent basis might increase increase agression and activity levels.
In my view thats not a nice thing to do to your bees.


as dawn said opinions vary. For what it is worth: when I put bananas into those hives I dodn’t notice any aggression or change in behavior at all. And I had cut the bananas lengthwise so the smell was strong. Also I don’t think the angry bee smell smells like banana at all- at least not to my nose. As to chalkbrood and bananas - many people seem to think it works though theories as to why do vary. I think it doesn’t hurt- and might work- so I will continue to experiment with it. Anecdotally- the chalkbrood in those hives did clear up considerably- though that may just have been due to the weather.

also i eat at least one banana every day- and i don’t worry about approaching a hive after I do.


I’ve recently purchased 4 nucs from different beekeepers and paid top $ for them…all were infested with chalk brood.
I’ve left the bees to sort it out as the temps are high and the population of bees seem to be increasing.
I’ve emptied the tray under the screened bottom everyday and it’s amazing how many mummies get tossed out overnight


this seems to be quite a common thing with purchased Nucs these days. I guess on KI your options are limited when you buy bees. Have to take what’s available.


Here is the discussion on bananas and bees:



303.65 KB

“Yes, I’m talking about bananas again. This spring we have heard that African beekeepers feed overripe bananas to their bees to increase brood and honey harvest. To many of us it came up as a surprise story. Some of the Master Beekeepers started to scratch their heads. We found some studies supporting the claim and some of us tried it. Including myself and it helped an early spring colony to recover that I basically had written off. This colony is very strong right now, and I’m happy I gave it a try. Besides bananas are cheap and I always end up with an overripe one. So what does it tell us as beekeepers? Don’t undermine people’s beekeeping practices just because they are not in the western world. In the meanwhile we see more and more nutrition documents and studies coming up about what bees really need. Including that soybean sugars can be toxic to bees (not the nectar). We know that all insects need a diet high in potassium and other minerals. You analyze plants and you learn that pollen later in the season is rich in minerals. These minerals help bees to live longer and so survive cold winters. Potassium is needed for bees to flex their wing muscles to generate heat in the winter cluster. The ethyl gasses these ripe bananas produce will reduce some of the pathogens by simply killing spores that can post issues to bees. We already know that banana peel cures chalk brood. It actually suppresses chalkbrood spores. They further have discovered that bees that have a diet rich in potassium can handle diseases better and actually live longer. So this brings me back to bananas that are rich in potassium and other minerals. I like to suggest to treat our fall hives with overripe bananas. You simply slice it with peel and all length wise, and cut one more time in the center to end up with 4 pieces. Lay one piece per hive over the bars and squish it down. Check after a week and replace if needed. Eventually they stop taking it or you can no longer open the hive. Please do not post nasty remarks, because you think we are nuts. Try it or don’t try it. It is all up to you. BTW it is amazing how much material comes up when you google “potassium honey bee” and even “winter bees potassium”. All studies done by universities. Lots of good reading material and very recent on top of it.”



And the writers response:

Banana usage has become of interest to me when I saw a post by an African beekeeper stating that they always feed bananas to rear them up in spring. Various master beekeepers and I started to scratch out heads. So I pulled research material to see if there is indeed some evidence to this. In short there was. A few studies supported it. That was last year early in spring. I had a colony that was technically dead. I had written it off, like we so often have to do after a long winter with those colonies that are to weak to make it. I had nothing to loose and started to treat it with a quarter of an entire banana with peel each week. It was placed over the top frames and squished down with the lid. They came back to life and are still in existence with the same queen. So I started to look into research relating to bananas. We do know that banana peel itself clears up chalkbrood. It was thought that it is due to causing the bees to clean. We now know that the dopamine the peel contains puts the bees into overdrive. The gasses the decaying peel releases kills spores, which has been tested on rotting orange peel. Looking into the nutrients of the banana pulp we can see that it contains simple sugars, minerals, and amino acids bees need. Potassium is something that stands out. It inhibits virus replication in the bees body, which is interesting since varroa transmits them and they do more damage in the long living winter bees. In spring I treated all my colonies with banana (pulp and peel) so see how it goes. They reared up faster, which I was able to confirm with my notes from the previous year. They will take the banana as long there is nothing out there producing pollen or nectar. They stop eating the banana once resources outside of the hive become available. Weaker colonies may continue utilizing the banana until they no longer see need for it. I have been told for decades not to eat banana around your bees or they will sting. Guess what I have been eating bananas prior and nothing every happened. Now putting it into a hive is a different story. It gets their attention, because bananas contain one component that has been found in the alarm pheromone. Yet, the banana misses other pheromones that entice stinging. So yes, they wake up and get into overdrive, but no they do not attack. My suggestion is to put on gear, because of their erratic behavior. It is easy to make a mistake by squishing one and then they may become agitated and may sting. Right now it is fall here in the US and I have been back to feeding overripe bananas to my bees. We get nectar dearth in later summer and this year it has been very bad. They are actively taking it. BTW they will not store it in super or brood frames. They are eating it, and that includes the peel. I will continue to do so until they either stop taking it or the weather is to cold to open up the hive. Next spring I will start a research project on package built-up with bees being feed banana and a control group that is not. I will run it through the University of Montana and hopefully will published a peer reviewed research document on the outcome. I hope that clears any questions that may have come from looking at my presentation. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1nc4t7_CqXhmhVptWPoEaAjhz-uknFSGP I don’t preach beekeeping methods without any background research. There is way to much of that on the internet. My presentations always contain references at the end linking to known research material.


Fascinating! I too was warned never to approach hives with banana-breath, much less an actual banana :banana:

Thanks for posting this Faroe, I am very tempted to give bananas a try as late winter/early spring feed!


I had one hive (blondes) that wouldn’t take feed this fall so they are on a sugar cake diet…they will survive on this but I bet they will love the banana…will post results after I try it…it’s a strong hive.


@JimM When I started bee keeping 45+ years ago I was told by my mentor, a commercial bee keeper, that the smell of bananas would turn quiet bees to aggressive. It seems it may be a ‘fable’ from years gone by. Opinion now seem to vary about its effects on bee behavior if any.


Cured a Cordovan colony that had bad chalkbrood for 11 months with banana. Everybody had given up on them. When I wanted to requeen couldn’t find the queen. They made it with banana!
I’m convinced it works!
They are just filling their second super within 4 weeks and not one chalky bit to be seen in the brood frames.
Beautiful redhead bees.


basically the article says don’t constipate your bees in the winter by feeding bananas!