Wax moths are a common pest that can infest honey bee hives, causing damage to comb and reducing the productivity of bee colonies. Our guide provides important information on how to identify, prevent, and treat wax moth infestations in honey bee hives. Learn about the life cycle of wax moths, signs of infestation, and effective treatment options, including cultural and chemical methods. By taking proactive measures to protect your bee colonies from wax moths, you can ensure the health and productivity of your honey bees and preserve the quality of your honey harvest. Don’t let wax moths take over your hives – arm yourself with the knowledge and tools to keep them at bay.

Honey bees are fascinating creatures that play an important role in the pollination of our crops and the production of honey. Unfortunately, they are also susceptible to various pests and diseases that can wreak havoc on their hives. One such pest is the wax moth, a common enemy of honey bee hives. In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about wax moths and how to treat honey bee hives for wax moths.

What are wax moths?

Wax moths are small, greyish-brown moths that lay their eggs in honey bee hives. The eggs hatch into small larvae that immediately start to eat the beeswax, honey, and pollen stored in the hive. The larvae are voracious eaters and can quickly decimate a honey bee colony if left unchecked.

There are two species of wax moths that are common pests of honey bee hives: the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) and the lesser wax moth (Achroia grisella). The greater wax moth is larger and more destructive than the lesser wax moth, but both can cause significant damage to a hive.

Signs of a wax moth infestation

The first sign of a wax moth infestation is the presence of small, silken webs or cocoons in the hive. These are the cocoons of the wax moth larvae. As the larvae grow and eat more of the beeswax and other hive materials, they leave behind a web-like substance that can be seen throughout the hive.

Another sign of a wax moth infestation is the presence of small, black fecal pellets. These are the excrement of the wax moth larvae and can be seen on the frames, comb, and other hive components.

In severe infestations, you may notice a foul smell coming from the hive. This is due to the wax moth larvae eating the hive materials and leaving behind waste products that can cause fermentation and spoilage.

Preventing wax moth infestations

Prevention is key when it comes to wax moth infestations. The best way to prevent wax moths from taking hold in your hive is to keep the hive strong and healthy. This means providing the bees with plenty of food, water, and a clean, well-ventilated hive.

Regular hive inspections are also important. During your inspections, look for signs of wax moth activity, such as cocoons, webbing, or fecal pellets. If you spot any of these signs, take immediate action to prevent the infestation from spreading.

Another way to prevent wax moth infestations is to store unused hive components in a cool, dry place. Wax moths prefer warm, humid environments, so keeping your unused hive components in a cool, dry location can help deter these pests.

Treating wax moth infestations

If you do discover a wax moth infestation in your hive, there are several steps you can take to treat it.

The first step is to remove any damaged or infested comb. This includes any comb that has visible webbing, cocoons, or fecal pellets. Be sure to remove all the affected comb, as leaving even a small amount behind can allow the infestation to continue.

Once you have removed the infested comb, freeze it for at least 48 hours to kill any remaining wax moth larvae or eggs. Freezing is an effective way to kill wax moth larvae and will not harm the wax or honey in the comb.

After freezing, you can either reuse the comb or discard it. If you decide to reuse the comb, be sure to put it back in the hive as soon as possible. Leaving the hive without comb for too long can cause the bees to become stressed and may even trigger swarming.