Saul Creek Apiary
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Saul Creek Apiary
PO Box 928
Seguin TX, 78155
Damage to Hive Frame and Wax Comb Caused by Wax Moth Infestation.
One of the first things I learned many years ago when I first became interested in Beekeeping was that Frames W/Drawn Comb were a Beekeepers biggest asset and should be protected at all cost. Frames with Drawn Comb can be used to give a new package a major head start as the queen can start laying just as soon as she is released. On a Flow, Bees can start filling Frames of Honey Supers immediately where as frames with wax foundation take longer to draw and require valuable resources (Bees) and energy that should be geared toward foraging.
Wax Moths can cause hundreds of thousands dollars of damage and hours of intense labor to Beekeeping Equipment if left unprotected. The above frame is what is left after wax moths destroyed the wax comb and caused damage to the hive frame.
Hive Frames with pupae cases. Damaged Hive frame with pupae cases removed
Wax Moth pupa cases are normally 1 1/8 inches long and off white in color. The above pictures shows the damage done by wax moth larva which imbeds itself in wooden hive frames and hive bodies.
One of the Biggest Questions we get is "Do Wax Moths Kill Honey Bees": - NO -
Healthy Honey Bee Colonies normally will have no problem keeping Wax Moths at bay. Normally we see wax moths invade weak or diseased colonies which is an indicator that colony numbers are too low to protect drawn comb within the hive. The key here is to keep the colony population within the hive almost to the point of being over crowded and do not give the colony any more area than the population can safely cover. We also see beekeepers that add honey supers or additional brood chambers too soon after installing packages or adding drawn comb to nucleus colonies that do not have a high enough population to keep wax moths in check. The key to a healthy colony is it's population.
Wax Moth Misconceptions:
Super or Honey Frame that has been eaten by Wax Moths
Wax Moth Prevention:
It is far easier to prevent Wax Moth infestation than it is to deal with the damage and mess caused by an infestation. All comb being removed from healthy hives whether for honey extraction or storage should be dealt with in manor that reduces the chances of wax moths laying eggs. Wet Frames that have been extracted should be returned to the hive for clean up and damage repair by the Bees which will greatly reduce the chances of wax moths taking a toll. Never Store Frames with Drawn Comb in a dark place. Many Beekeepers store Frames with Drawn Comb outside in full sun in stacked hive bodies that have spacers placed in-between them to prevent wax moths from ruining drawn comb.
Homemade Hive Body and Frame Construction Wax Moth Prevention: (when building home made Hive Bodies and Frames make sure proper Bee Spaces are left in-between frames and hive body walls that will allow Bees to remove eggs laid by Wax Moths. Often times Wax Moths will lay in areas inaccessible to Bees.
The pictures above show the importance of proper Bees Spacing which allows Bees to remove Moth Eggs
Fumigation: (fumigation should be used whenever wax moths are present and equipment is to be stored to destroy any eggs or larva. Several effective safe commercial chemicals are available to Beekeepers for fumigation of wax moths.
Can Frames and Hive Bodies that have been infested with wax moths be re-used?
Yes, Frames and Hive Bodies can be reused. Although somewhat unsightly frames and hive bodies can be safely reused once all the damaged wax and gunk have been removed. Frames and bodies must be thoroughly scraped clean before being introduced back into a hive.
To prevent Wax Moths from ruining stored drawn comb, stack frames with drawn comb placed in hive bodies in direct light with spacers placed in-between hive bodies. Allowing light in discourages wax moths from laying eggs.
Prevention is the key to keeping Wax Moths at bay. Keep your hives healthy and keep your equipment in good shape to avoid the damage of the Wax Moth!
Cleaning Frames and Hive Bodies that have Wax Moth Damage:
First remove all old wax, wax moth cases and wax moth by-products. A Hive tool works great for this. Frames and Hive Bodies can then be sprayed with a solution of Bleach and Water. A little bit of bleach goes along way so don't over do it on the bleach. Allow frames and hive bodies to sit in direct sun until dry. Reinstall wax foundation and your good to go.
Storing Frames with Drawn Comb:
We sore all our drawn comb on in open air racks with frames spaced about 3/4" in-between frames. Wax Moths love dark places so we do whatever we can to eliminate favorable wax moth conditions. To keep frames clean we drape clear plastic over frames and rack making sure to cover any exposed wood surfaces to prevent dust or birds from contaminating our frames.
Many Beekeepers have now turned to storing their frames in cold storage such as an old refrigerator or Freezer. This is an almost fool proof way to prevent wax moth damage of stored frames.
Can I Use Moth Balls: NO
If you want your honey to taste the way moth balls smell, then by all means place moth balls in your stored equipment. Moth Balls are toxic to honey bees and should never be used. There are two different types of moth balls one which is normally used in storage of clothes or sometimes in closets and moth crystals which are used to prevent moth infestation. In our opinion neither one is acceptable for use with anything that humans will consume.
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