Text of our publication Iron - the remedy for bee decline

Globally, iron deficiency is one of the most reported mineral deficiencies. Little is known, however, about the iron requirements of honeybees. Indications exist, that winter mortality is being caused by a seasonal iron deficiency. Administering an iron supplement to honeybee colonies may therefore be a cure for bee decline, at least partially. There are some important aspects:

  • An iron deficit is not specifically considered as a cause of bee decline, no research has been conducted in this domain
  • Some widely reported neurological symptoms accompanying bee problems can be attributed to iron deficiency
  • Administering iron to bees may have a positive influence on their immune system
  • Insight into the reason why the varroa mite does not occur in Australia: Eucalyptus punctata pollen, which occurs there widely, has a very high iron content.

Iron - the new tool for beekeepers

We have developed a product that serves as a tool for beekeepers to counteract many problems related to bee decline. It is a formula containing iron and is administered to the bees on a regular basis later in the season, from August until late September.

Our product is available right now. Patents pending.

Field tests

Our iron supplement was first administered in 2011 in the Netherlands. The trials were conducted in 16 different regions, 16 beekeepers with 50 hives participated. Field trials continued in 2012 in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the U.S. (Florida, N. Dakota); with 70 beekeepers at 70 locations with more than 1,000 hives participating.

Usual winter colony losses at the trial sites range from 30% to 40%, and are as high as 100% at some locations. The incidence of CCD is high (10% to 25%). As part of these trials, several methods of administering the iron supplement were tested.


Survival after winter 2011/2012:

  • With iron supplement: 92%
  • Without iron supplement: 59%
  • When formic/oxalic acid was also used: 0%

Results from treatments in summer and autumn 2012 are expected in February/March 2013.

Reported effects 1 to 8 weeks after application

  • Increase in mite fall; mite fall almost doubled
  • More active flying behavior of the bees
  • Increased removal of weakened bees from the hives
  • Favourable influence on reproduction
  • Bees live longer  
  • Fewer dead bees around the hives


Administering an iron supplement might also cure CCD, but this is yet to be demonstrated. We predict that Nosema ceranae will be substituted by Nosema apis.

Plan for 2013

  • Administering our product on a larger scale
  • Monitoring the effects
  • Developing the best method of administration
  • Further scientific back up

For further information please contact us:

Science in Water B.V.
Maarten van Hoorn
Tel. + 31 294 285165