Wax moths are a common problem for beekeepers. They are small, tan in color, and eat the comb in a beehive. They lay eggs in the wax which hatch and the larvae burrow through the frame of comb as they eat whatever is in their path. These small, white larvae leave behind a web-like mess filled with feces and debris. They will kill a weak colony and ruin any stored equipment. Some may say that it is impossible to control wax moths infestations. I will admit that it is difficult but, I believe that with enough work, the correct knowledge, and the right tools it is entirely possible.
The best method of control is prevention. Since wax moths are known to attack small, weak, or diseased colonies and stored comb it would be safe to say that keeping strong, healthy hives and carefully stored comb are very good preventative actions and they are. However, wax moths are rather clever pests and they will squeeze through any small crack in a hive and sometimes find a way into even the most securely stored frames. One popular way to prevent these sly bugs from causing damage, if they find an opportunity, are to store the frames with PDB (Paradichlorobenzene) crystals. These are designed to deter wax moths without deterring honey bees as opposed to moth balls for example. Another thing you can do is spray both sides of every frame with Certan, or B401, and let dry before storage or use in a hive. It is a form of BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) and is designed to kill a wax moths larvae as soon as they begin to eat the comb. I’ve also read of a wax moth trap that sounds promising, although I haven’t tried it yet. You simply use a 2 litre plastic soda bottle and drill a 1 inch hole just below the slope on the neck. Then add:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 half cup vinegar
1 Banana peel
Wait a few days until it starts to ferment, then tie it into a tree close to the hives. This trap will draw the wax moths, they enter the hole can’t get out and drown in the liquid. I’ve read that this is also supposed to trap kill the bald faced hornet.
Wax Moths – Longlanehoney
An infestation of wax moths is usually an indicator of bigger problems so first check and make sure that wax moths are your only problem. When moths do infest your hives the best thing to do is clean out all the debris. Remove all the really nasty comb and get rid of it. The less-infected frames can be saved by freezing them for 48 hours. This will kill the larvae and eggs. I would also spray them with Certan to be safe. For moderate infestations freezing the frames and a little cleaning should rid your hive of the pests. More severe infestations require more action. For instance, you might need to put the bees in a new box altogether and scrub down all the old wooden ware and cut out all the wax. Either way, the best way to get wax moths out of a hive is just to remove everything that has wax moth debris on it. Just remember, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.