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wax moths

 
john giroux
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Location: Cumming, GA
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I had quite a big infestation. cleaned out a bunch of them and hoped for the best. they all left as of yesterday. interestingly, not a drop of honey or anything else in cell but small hive beetles and wax larva.
 
tel jetson
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can you tell us a bit of the history of this colony? how did you start? when? what style of hive? what is your management like?


I have yet to find a hive without any wax moths, but they're rarely a problem unless a box of comb or honey is stored without having been frozen first. when they really seem to get out of hand is when a colony has dwindled for some reason and there aren't enough bees to patrol all the comb in the hive.
 
john giroux
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the hive was from last season. got tons of honey last year and had a full deep of honey for them for the winter. they made it thru winter strong. I had a big die off a few months ago. hundreds of dead bees all over the ground at the entrance. they seemed to be building up before a few weeks ago when I found the wax moths. I was thinking the very wet weather might have had something to do with it. the hive was in the shade most of the day.
 
john giroux
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Location: Cumming, GA
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langs. hive. 10 frame. some frames with foundation some without. I must have put a honey super that was not frozen on the hive. is it best to freeze them just prior to installing on rhe hive?
 
tel jetson
steward
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how did you get the bees last year?
 
john giroux
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this was from a local guy here in Georgia. it was a 5 frame nuc.
 
tel jetson
steward
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john giroux wrote:this was from a local guy here in Georgia. it was a 5 frame nuc.


do you know the provenance of the queen? many queens in commerce are, from a biological point of view, emergency queens. as such, they can wear out a lot sooner than full queens.

it could be that your hive suffered a queen failure and was not able to recover. they may have attempted to supersede her, but the wet weather made a mating flight for any new queens impossible. or, a mating flight could have taken place, but failed for some reason, e.g. she got eaten.

john giroux wrote:I must have put a honey super that was not frozen on the hive. is it best to freeze them just prior to installing on rhe hive?


any comb that doesn't have bees patrolling it will develop a wax moth population given time. freezing comb after it's removed from a hive then securing it against new moths can prevent that. if you've got some questionable drawn comb that you want to super, freezing it first would be prudent to kill any wax moth larvae that might be hiding.

that alone shouldn't have caused the problem, though. if there were enough bees to patrol the comb, they would rogue out most of the wax moths pretty quickly.
 
john giroux
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the queen was from the fat bee man. got her last july. I think I might have had a swarm, so loss of the new queen would explain it. I'm thinking it is probably to late ro get a new nuc. next spring I will try again.
 
tel jetson
steward
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john giroux wrote:the queen was from the first bee man. got her last july. I think I might have had a swarm, so loss of the new queen would explain it. I'm thinking it is probably to late ro get a new nuc. next spring I will try again.


do you know the breed? I got a swarm this year from a beek who was horrified that his brand new Italian bees were leaving. that was the beginning of June, and he had installed the package in April. that is the largest swarm I've ever collected.

in future, I would suggest planning for your colonies to swarm every year. you can certainly make sure they have lots of space so they don't swarm due to being cramped, but if they're healthy, they're going to swarm sooner or later. having several bait hives in place will increase your odds of keeping the swarm (or several), since it's not generally practical to monitor them all day during swarm season.

then, if you notice the parent colony dwindling and determine that they weren't able to replace the queen, you can unite it with the swarm. if, on the other hand, the parent colony does well on its own, you'll have another colony that you can either keep or sell.


since you've now got some used equipment, you can set it up as bait hives now, or wait until next year's swarm season. comb that's had brood in it seems to work a bit better in bait hives than comb that's only had honey in it. alternately, you could just use the debris left behind by wax moths as the bait instead of leaving your drawn comb out to be eaten by the moths. I've heard reports of that working very well, too.

if you've got some hive bodies that haven't been used yet, making some propolis tincture and painting the inside of the hive bodies would probably make them more attractive to swarm scouts. just scrape some propolis off wherever you find it and dissolve it in the strongest booze you can find. 192 proof grain alcohol is available in liquor stores here, so that's what I use.

a couple drops of lemongrass oil (Cymbopogon citratus) at the entrance mimics Nasanov scent, which will further increase your odds.

might be worth talking to your bee supplier about getting some of his dead queens. if he's pinching queens pretty frequently, and I would guess that he is, he might be willing to collect them for you. stored in alcohol, they'll be a potent source of queen mandibular pheromone which is probably about the strongest swarm lure you're likely to find.


there are a lot of advantages to starting with natural swarms. buying bees from a supplier of local bees can be a pretty good option, too, and I would certainly prefer that over mail-order bees, so you may still be in pretty good shape if you end up buying from your local guy again. I would treat that as a backup plan, though, and shoot for luring or collecting swarms.
 
john giroux
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Location: Cumming, GA
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i was wondering about using the comb in a bait hive and how to kep the moths from it. but if you can use the stuff the moths have alread eaten, all the better. I was planning on melting it all and straining out the webs. thanks for the info. Its been fun leaening about these bees for thw last 18months.
 
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