Spot Wax Moths – Bee Aware

Wax moths are usually a minor problem for beekeepers in our area of Western Washington.

Wax moth larva (maggots) consume wax and protein from brood comb in which they produce webs and frass (feces), which can be detected under stored frames by the observant beekeeper. This usually takes place in the stored comb and can damage if the combs are not regularly inspected.

Wax moths can also invade working beehives but they are usually eliminated quickly if the hive is functioning properly.

Wax moth infestations can be treated by freezing frames of comb and scrapings. One method is to leave frames outside on freezing, non-rainy days, or put frames into the freezer 24 hours. Frames can be stored in plastic bags after freezing.

Comb frames can also be treated with paradichlorobenzene crystals (Para Moth) but never with naphthalene, a common ingredient in moth balls, which is lethal to bees and remains in stored comb for years. A fumigation using concentrated acetic acid, which also destroys Nosema spores, is also highly effective.

In November, prophylactic inspections can lead to early detections, and inspections every month or two thereafter during the winter and spring months are advised.

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