Beekeepers have been detecting the beginning stages of wax moth infestations within “dead out” equipment throughout Manitoba. With the high winter losses and reports of numerous dead hives not being repopulated with bees this summer, concerns are continuing to grow regarding the how to protect brood chambers from pests, like the wax moth.

Recent and present weather has provided ideal conditions for the wax moth outbreaks to occur, which is only made worse with the fact that there are already existing populations here in the province. With conditions like these, wax moth eggs can hatch in as little as 3-5 days. Damage that occurs to equipment from these pests is significant and can be devastating to beekeepers and their operations.

The simplest way to monitor for wax moth is to set up a light trap in the shed where the brood chambers are being stored. It can be as simple as a light bulb over a pail of soapy water or using a “black light” to increase the attractiveness.

Tips for managing wax moth infestations focus on prevention and monitoring, as well as managing conditions and storage. Prevention is generally regarded as the best form of control regarding wax moth management. Wax moths can detect the smell of beeswax from great distances away using their antennae, therefore effective storage practices and managing conditions are critical to any good mitigation strategy.

Prevention and Monitoring:

1. Maintain strong colonies. A well populated hive will be better able to protect itself against wax moth invasion. It is also better at removing wax moth larvae and repairing damage caused by the pest.

2. Do not leave “deadout” hives in the beeyards.

3. Using bug zappers or bait traps can sometimes help to control adult moths.

4. Monitor stored equipment for the presents of wax moth larvae on a regular basis throughout the summer.

Managing Conditions and Storage:

1. Store the unused equipment in a cool, well-ventilated building below 12 degrees Celsius.

2. Criss-crossing your boxes when storing them is a preferable method.

3. Wax moth are discouraged from colonizing equipment in dry, well-lit areas as opposed to a dark and damp building.

4. If at all possible, try to store all comb equipment in an unheated, non-insulated building over winter. If wax moth activity is detected in spring or summer, freeze equipment for at least 2 hours once -15 degrees Celsius is reached to kill larvae.

5. Avoid long-term storage of equipment (i.e. try to use all the supers/brood chambers at least once per season).

6. Separate dark and light comb in your storage shed. Wax moth prefers dark comb.

It is important that beekeepers are aware of what prevention and monitoring strategies are available regarding wax moths and other pests. Wax moths cause significant damage to equipment and can hurt their business.