Posted by Surreybeekeeper | Posted in Beehives, Beekeeping, Bees, diseases | Posted on 27-07-2011
I did a check on the bees recently and discovered a pretty heavy infestation of wax moth. I knew there was some present but due to the bad weather I hadn’t been able to inspect the hives for a while. The weaker colony is riddled with it (if conditions are right and warm, eggs of the wax moth can hatch after just 5 days) which is no surprise because wax moth really only affects weaker colonies. Stronger ones can deal with it quite well.
So how can you deal with it? There are two methods of control; one natural and one chemical which I hope to cover here in this blog post.
Before I explain it in too much detail, let me just tell you a little bit more about it. Predominantly there are two strains of wax moth:
1. Greater Wax Moth
They are mottled grey in colour and are between 1-1.5 inches long. Click here for more information from Wikipedia
2. Lesser Wax Moth
These are white/silver colour and about 0.5 inches long. Click here for more information from Wikipedia
Essentially they do the same thing, lay eggs in the hive and then their larvae feed off the eggs, pollen, honey and will destroy brood comb given half the chance and, in turn, will kill of a hive very
quickly. They do this by burrowing underneath the comb which actually protects them from the bees so that they can go about their destructive habits unchecked. You can see from the picture on the left what they look like. In heavily infested hives you will see them wriggling amongst the frames. Not a nice site.
In burrowing through the brood comb (they very very rarely go through a
super) they leave a characteristic “web” which means they are one of the easier problems to detect in a hive.
How do you stop Wax Moth?
Natural Treatment – The best prevention are the bees themselves. Research suggests Wax Moth is actually present in most hives but a strong colony will be able to control. As in my colony which is very weak the Wax Moth has taken over
Another treatment, simply to control numbers is to ensure that any frames used in the summer months are then either hung in a shed leaving them open to the cold – Wax Moths need warm temperatures to survive – which will kill off any eggs remaining. Some beekeepers in warmer climates simply put their frames in the deep freeze.
Chemical Treatment – Those who prefer chemicals as a method of control (one that I prefer to avoid if I can) could use a fumigant known as Paradichlorobenzne (PDB) that is used to destroy these moths. This can only be used on combs that are in storage. They are not successful on combs that currently are filled with honey. Carbon Dioxide can be used to fumigate combs that are filled with honey. It ensures that the honey is still acceptable to be sold
Treatment during the season – As Wax Moth affects the brood it will obviously take hold during a season but most treatments discuss what to do in the closed season. Stupidly though the frames would still be with the bees. If you have an infestation but still have a viable colony then you may want to get rid of the bees from that comb so that you can carry out the above treatment. Essentially a shook swarm or “Bailey Comb Change” is needed (in short putting another brood box with clean, hopefully drawn out frames and foundation, above the original brood box to encourage the bees to move up). This won’t solve the problem as some though not all the Wax Moth may travel up as well but it will be limited. You can then carry out treatment on the affected comb as suggested
Below is a good video I have found that summarises the whole issue. Hope this helps as well:
I have to say that I have found Wax Moth a rather upsetting problem to have in your hive as essentially you know that they have taken advantage in an already weakened hive. Horrible little things……..Essentially with my hive there is not a lot I can do as they are so weak and sadly queenless. The inevitable will happen and I will empty out the frames and then flame the hive to ensure it cannot happen again, at least for a while anyway and then I will be better prepared.