Before becoming a beekeeper you probably never ever heard about wax moths. Well, if you have been keeping bees longer than 14 minutes then you know about Wax Moths, and that they are not our friends.
There are two species of wax moths actually
The Greater Wax Moth, Galleria mellonella
The Lesser Wax Moth, Achroia grisella
One is bigger than the other, but they usually exist together, and you can be sure they are both here in Arizona. In reality they are just part of the Earth’s clean up crew. Just like flys and termites, wax moths are part of the decomposition of things that die or are discarded.
Wax moth adults are nocturnal and hang out in dark places during the day. At night they enter hives and lay their eggs in cracks and crevices, knowing that when their offspring hatch they will have lots of yummy wax to chomp on.
Strong bee colonies can usually handle these babies by taking them out of the hive or maybe even eating them (I don’t know). Weak colonies with too much room to defend can often be overtaken by these comb-eating larvae. It takes a great amount of resources for bees to make wax, so when there are no cells to grow babies or store food, colonies can simply die.
If that isn’t enough, wax moths will also mow down your precious stored comb as well. It is wise to assume that wax moths will find your frames even when locked in a box deep in the catacombs. Trust me!
Here is what you can do to help keep Wax Moths at bay in your hives and stored frames.
- Maintain healthy, strong colonies to promote high bee-to-comb ratio
- Make sure to check equipment regularly for cocoons
- Trap adult wax moths in the apiary as well as in the honey house
- Do not leave supers of drawn comb in unoccupied beehives. If you have to, make sure all frames are exposed to light and ventilation
- Extract honey from supers within 2 days of hive removal or freeze them
- Freeze lightly damaged wax moth infested equipment
- Use Paramoth or Certan for storing drawn comb. Follow directions completely.
Make a Wax Moth Trap
One small thing you can do to help in the relentless battle against wax moths is to make a trap to catch some of the adult moths. This is really simple to make and only requires a few things you may already have around the house.
Here is what you need
- 1. 2 liter plastic bottle
- 2. 1 cup sugar
- 3. 1 cup hot water
- 4. 1 cup vinegar
- 5. 1 banana peel
- Get the 2 liter plastic bottle and cut a 1 inch hole near the top. I like to use a lighter to melt the edges to strengthen it too.
- Dissolve the sugar in the water and pour into the bottle.
- Add the vinegar and banana peel.
- Make a loop with twine or wire attached to the rim of the bottle to hang.
As the ingredients ferment it will attract moths and probably a few other insects. They will go in but they won’t come back out.
I’m here for you.
As always, if you have any questions about beekeeping in Arizona, or for resources you need to find here, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
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