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Tip of the Month

Dealing with wax moth

wax moth.webp

Good drawn combs are very valuable and they will rapidly deteriorate if they are neglected and will become useless. Greater wax moth can quickly destroy combs that have had brood in, especially in warm weather and if the combs are stacked together. Lesser wax moth will attack combs whether they have had brood in or not, but are not as destructive as greater wax moth. Both Greater and Lesser wax moth will more commonly cause damage to unattended combs in storage, especially in areas that are dark, warm and poorly ventilated.


Temperatures below -7oC can kill all stages of the wax moth life cycle within 4 to 5 hours. All life-cycle stages of the wax moth, including eggs, are killed by placing the frames in a freezer and freezing them for 24 Hours. While this method is effective at killing the wax moth, the stored comb is at risk of infestation again if not stored in the right conditions.


Storing wax frames

There are a number of non-chemical methods for maintaining empty boxes and supers of comb which can be used to ensure that they are not damaged or destroyed by wax moth larvae. Chemical treatments should be avoided due to the high risks of contaminating honey products and the honey bee colonies. Beekeepers should consider the temperature, amount of ventilation, and light levels that the combs and hive equipment are stored at in order to minimise wax moth infestation. Wax moth don’t like cold, light and well ventilated conditions.


You can either bag your frames or put them in a large plastic tote to store them. It is not a requirement to vacuum seal the bags, but it does ensure that they will stay completely air tight. Parkla bags from IKEA are ideal to store supers with frames in. Do not use a dustbin bag. Wax moths have a tendency of finding holes (or even making them) to crawl through. Remember wax moths can chew/digest plastic.


If you decided to store supers or frames in tight-fitting plastic boxes, double-check that everything is completely dry. In addition, peek inside after a few weeks just to make sure no mould has begun to grow.


Or if you are lucky enough to have an old empty chest freezer (not turned on) this is also ideal for storing frames

Empty bee boxes—with or without drawn comb can be stored in stacks sealed with a steel mesh screen at the top and bottom to allow the free flow of light and air throughout the stack. Plastic mesh will not do as wax moth can chew through plastic.

Beekeeper with Bees

Making Screens

To make up a screen you will need 0.45 mm stainless steel mesh (midge mesh) bought online together with 8 strips of plywood. The plywood strips are 25 mm (1 inch) wide and are glued or stapled together.


The join in the two sandwich frames are staggered, i.e. in the attached photograph the bottom right join is vertical, but on the frame underneath it is horizontal. It makes the whole assembly a bit stronger.


The photo shows a close up of the wax moth screen with midge mesh of 0.45mm

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