The Wax Moth is a very destructive insect pest in the beehive. The adult moth is a heavy bodied small moth about ½” to ¾” long, wings vary in color from grayish to brown and the underside is light gray. The mated females will fly into a colony 1 to 3 hours after dark and lay their eggs and then leave before daylight. The eggs are laid in masses and are light in color.
- A fat larvae worm will be visible
- Larvae is pointed at both ends with a brown head and can get up to 1" in length
- Will stay in the larvae state from 18 days to 3 months
- Prefer darker comb and will chew out oval depressions throughout your hive
- Will destroy the comb and woodenware
- Begin spinning a cocoon that can cover your frames
Immediate action needs to be taken if a web has already been spun.
There are no chemicals approved to kill these wax worms while in your hive. The only sure way to keep this from becoming a problem in your hive is to keep your bees strong and healthy so they can manage them successfully on their own. Depending on the extent of the problem you have several options; remove the infected super and add it to a very strong colony that will clean it up, place the comb inside a plastic bag and place in a freezer for 2 days, or some in the deep south, will place the infested combs over a fire ant nest for a day or so to clean up.
If you make cut comb honey it is necessary to freeze your comb for at least 2 days, this will kill the eggs and prevent them from hatching inside the packaging.
Extracting supers can be treated with Paradichlorobenzene (PDB). Simply stack the extracted dry supers about 5 high (hive bodies) or 10 high (supers) and place 6 oz. of the crystals on top of a square of newspaper in the top super. It is necessary to make sure that all cracks are taped shut; you are basically making a fumigation chamber. Check your stacked supers every 6 weeks if you live in a warm climate as the moths may get back into the stacked supers and lay more eggs when the PDB has vaporized. Make sure that the supers are aired out for several days before placing back on the hive. Use only the PDB, DO NOT use commercially available moth balls; it has other chemicals that are unsafe for bees and humans.
Note: Para-Moth is not available in California..