Bee balm – Monarda fistulosa

The variety of bee balm we have planted at the greenhouse is Monarda fistulosa, and it belongs to the Lamiacae family of plants, also known as the mint family. This can easily be confirmed by simply tasting its leaves; when crushed or eaten, they have a strong black licorice-ish flavor that evokes a sense of mint.

Interestingly, bee balm, according to two sources is a natural source of Thymol, also known as isopropylmethylphenol, or IPMP. Thymol is an ingredient in modern mouthwashes, and has been used by Native Americans as a poultice for its antiseptic properties.

The antiseptic properties of Thymol may give some insight into the name bee balm. Apparently, the mites that attack honeybees are varroa mites, and according to a 2006 BBC article these mites have been controlled with applications of Thymol.

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