Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What Are Wax Moths & Why Do They Bother Hives?

ADVANCE BEEKEEPING COURSE JUNE 11, 2014 9am-3pm Central Illinois!!

Have you considered the importance of taking our one day Advance Beekeeping Course?  I'll be joined by my good friend and fellow certified master beekeeper Jon Zawislak. Jon and I have written a book on queen rearing and we recently authored a two part articled published in the American Bee Journal on the difference between Northern and Southern bees. Jon and I will be teaching our Advance Beekeeping course June 11, 2014 here in Fairmount, Illinois and we have around 6 seats available. You don't want to miss this opportunity to be around me and Jon and learn about bees for a whole day. Click here for more information.

When I moved from Ohio to Illinois in 1995, I brought my bees with me. They did well for a while, but then I noticed they were weakening. Eventually, the hive was filled with wax moths. They make a mess! They spin their webbing throughout the hive and the larvae burrow into wood and comb. Left untreated, the hive will abscond. Beekeepers like to use the word abscond. It is just a fancy word for saying "the bees left".

Wax worms make moths, specifically called Galleria mellonella L. or Greater Wax Moth. Or there is the Lesser Wax moth Achroia Grisella which is probably more common.

They usually only take over weak hives, hives that are stressed or have gone queenless or have mites really bad. As a general rule, strong hives are the best defense against wax moth. If you have wax moths, you need to see if you can find out why the hive became weak enough for the wax moths to take over. Some suggest that most hives have a few inside, but they are kept in check.

Just like we keep bees, some folks actually raise wax worms and even buy starter kits. Fishermen use them for bait, and some people even eat them for protein. Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile, in their popular book, THE BEEKEEPER'S HANDBOOK, have a whole section on wax worm rearing (appendix H).

What does a beekeeper do when wax moths are out of control? Freezing frames works well. A deep freeze will kill all stages of the wax moth, including the eggs. Here is the formula: 4.5 hours at 20 degrees F, 3 hours at 10 degrees F, 2 hours at 5 degrees F. Measure your deep freezer temp and decide how long.

Next, crowd the bees by removing unused frames and boxes and freeze those frames. If possible, and depending on the size of the hive, shake all the bees into one deep brood box with comb, then freeze the beeless and broodless frames. If the amount of bees is too large to fit into a single hive body, shake them into a deep and medium super. Crowding the bees will cause them to chase out the moths and reduce the empty space for moths to hide. Reduce the crowding after frames have been frozen by putting the clean frames back in the hive.

You may have to freeze your hive bodies/super bodies too as the moths do attach eggs in cracks in the wood. Blowing smoke into the hive with a smoker, two or three times a day, will stir up the bees and help run out pests too. Keep the hive in solid sunlight...no shade.Strong hives, sunlight, freeze comb, crowd the bees and smoke 'em. A non-chemical approach to gettng rid of wax moths!