Dangers of Wax Moth In and Outside the Hive

by | Sep 2, 2016 | Beekeeping 101 | 0 comments

Dangers of Wax Moth In and Outside the Hive

Halloween decorations are already available at Wal-Mart; have you purchased any? We discovered free unwanted Halloween decorations in our storage shed. With a beyond crazy year behind us, which included moving, changing jobs, and deaths in the family, it has been rough. Of course living in our small travel trailer for 6 months and buying a home only made matters more chaotic. Most of our worldly treasures were housed in our storage shed including bee equipment and unprocessed honeycomb that was stored in a plastic bag.

Once the spring snow melted, we were ready to move our belongings into our new home. It was Christmas in July as we unpacked earthly possessions that we hadn’t seen for a long while. Eventually, we uncovered items that appeared to be Halloween decorations only to discover they were a beekeeper’s worst nightmare- WAX MOTHS (insert spooky music).

Silken webs, cocoons, and eggs covered the shelf and many items around the infected area. These worm like creatures had eaten their way through the heavily sealed plastic bag to live in wax moth heaven (aka. unprocessed honeycomb). Personally, I was disgusted by the cleanup of these nasty pests and Rhett couldn’t stand the sight of them. Thankfully, the cold winter temperatures killed the moths since they tend to flourish in 80-degree weather. Nonetheless, we had a huge mess on our hands. I scraped the cocoons off of shelves, lumber, and various storage boxes. They weren’t too finicky about where to call home. The next step involved throwing away the comb, scraping off silken webs, and washing items that needed some extra cleaning.

While the clean-up wasn’t a picnic in the shed, hive body and frame clean-up can be a lot of work. Moths can destroy the hive by eating comb, uncapping honey, and making a silken web throughout the interior hive body (imagine a bee Halloween party full of top notch decor). So, BEE-WARE of this sneaky moth as it can harm and destroy wax in various places, not just inside the hive.

Tips for preventing wax moth outside the hive:

  • Process your beeswax into clean poured bars before storing it away. Pure processed wax isn’t desirable to moths.
  • Store unprocessed comb and wet frames in a tightly sealed plastic tote. Or, store wet frames in a strong hive that is capable of fighting off wax moths.
  • If hive equipment or unprocessed wax is badly damaged or infested; burn, destroy, or dispose of the nasty stuff.
  • Store secured comb and supers in a cool space to restrict wax moth activity.

Tips for preventing wax moth inside the hive:

  • Plant mint around the beehives to detour moths. They do not like mint.
  • Keep hives strong and healthy by maintaining large numbers of bees in each colony.
  • Make sure that all hive components fit tightly to detour wax moths from sneaking through gaps and spaces.

What not to do:

  • Do not use moth balls in the hive because they can contaminate the honey.
  • Save the wax moths’ webs and larvae for Halloween decorations in the fall. 🙂
  • Give up. There are strategies to get rid of wax moth, please contact us if you need more help or guidance.

Author Bio

Sarah Renoud

Sarah Renoud

Operational Manager

Sarah holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Special Education. When not molding minds and hearts at school, she enjoys hiking adventures, RVing, organic gardening, studying natural health remedies, learning about bees, and interacting with all of God’s creation.