Wax moth control in beekeeping is done using a number of methods, which can be either chemical or non-chemical. The use of traps is great for beekeepers who do not want to add chemicals into the environment. Some of the chemical compounds that are used in wax moth control are carcinogenic. In this article we’ll take a look at the available methods beekeepers can use on wax moths and the best wax moth traps that are available for purchase.
There are two types of wax moths – the greater wax moth and the lesser wax moth. Both are considered to be a great pest to bees. The moths follow a lifecycle consisting of adult, egg, larvae and pupa stages. The adults of both species of wax moth enter beehives through unguarded entrances and lay eggs. Crevices in the beehive, cracks and seams of joints are preferred places for the moths when laying eggs.
Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed voraciously on bees wax and other bee wastes. In nature, wax moths are part of the delicately balanced bee ecosystem where they clean up after bees. Beekeeping is however severely affected by wax moths so they have to be controlled. Once larvae have fed for some weeks, they spin cocoons and enter the pupa stage. The pupae then molt into adult wax moths.
A complete cycle of eggs to adult wax moths should not take place in a beehive. If it does, you can expect no yields whatsoever. You will also be risking the honeybees absconding the hive. Controlling the wax moths in the beehive will also be a difficult undertaking due to heavy infestation of the hive.
Are Wax Moths Harmful to Bees?
A honeybee colony suffers greatly from infestation of wax moths in a beehive. The moths cause deformed wings in bees, make comb unusable and lead to a reduction in bee population of a honeybee colony. Additionally, wax moth larvae weaken the beehive by eating at the wood to make space for the cocoon in their pupa stage.
A strong colony of bees is able to keep wax moths in check. On the other hand, weak honeybee colonies get overwhelmed by wax moths and may eventually abscond from the hive. This is because they cannot remove wax moth larvae from all infested honeycomb, or they do it too slowly. Additionally, a weak colony with low population misses the adult wax moth as it enters the hive to lay eggs.
How Wax Moths Kill in Beehives
Adult wax moths in a beehive can lay many eggs in a day and infest a beehive within a short period of time. The adult moths do not destroy much of the beehive themselves. It is their larvae that are most destructive in a beehive.
Larvae of wax moths are voracious in their feeding. They prefer to eat honey and pollen of honeybees. The larvae burrow through honeycomb on frames as they seek food. In burrowing, they affect honeybee brood and cause honey spills in the beehive. In their wake, the larvae leave webs and slime on the beehive surfaces they come into contact with.
While bees can fight and kill off adult wax moths, they cannot easily fight the larvae of wax moths. The larvae cause unchecked destruction in the beehive and then pupate. They make cocoons in the beehive. Often, the cocoons are attached to beehive surfaces through which the larvae make small burrows. This greatly compromises the structural integrity of the beehive. Wax moth larvae has been found to prefer comb that has been used for brooding than fresh comb or that which has been used to mostly store honey.
A honeybee colony with wax moth infestation in their beehive can get overwhelmed within a short period of time. Death of brood from wax moth larvae burrowing causes the colony to get weak. There are not enough foraging bees and the hive can be attacked by robber bees. Predators such as yellow jacket hornets and various wasps can also easily attack the weakened honeybee colony.
When there is too much web and slime accompanied by spilt honey in the beehive, the honeybee colony leaves the beehive and seeks shelter elsewhere. Beekeepers coming to a beehive that has been attacked by wax moths are treated to a bad smell, dead bee brood and possibly no bees.
Best Wax Moth Traps
Let us now discuss the best wax moth traps that are available for purchase.
5. Mann Lake DC130 Para-Moth Wax Moth Control
Beekeepers needing to control wax moths in their beehives have the DC130 Para-Moth at their disposal. It is made by Mann Lake and comes in a 1-pound canister. Mann Lake is a reputable beekeeping supplies outlet with numerous products for beekeepers. Para-Moth is an insecticide which kills wax moths or prevents them from infesting a hive. Its active ingredient is Para-Dichlorobenzene. It is for use outside the beehive among stored beehive boxes. Para-Dichlorobenzene is a general insecticide which toxic to insects, molds and mildews. It is believed to work by its metabolites binding to proteins in animal cells.
Click here to read our full review of the Mann Lake DC130 Para-Moth Wax Moth Control.
This Mann Lake wax moth control insecticide is very effective when used properly. It is wax safe and does not remain as residues in the honey or beeswax. Para-Moth is a sure way any beekeeper can make certain there are no wax moths in their apiary. The canister comes at a weight of 1.3 pounds including the insecticide powder. It measures 3.8 x 3.8 x 5.9 inches. The canister is very ideal for beekeepers with smaller apiaries. They do not need to use a lot of insecticide per application so the canister lasts a long time. Once opened, make sure to store the insecticide in a cool dry place away from reach of children.Check Price
4. Mann Lake DC131 Para-Moth Wax Moth Control
The Mann Lake DC131 Wax Moth Control is a Para-Dichlorobenzene insecticide. It is a general insecticide powder suitable for control of wax moths in large apiaries. The insecticide comes in a 5-pound pail that lasts for a long time. This wax moth control solution from Mann Lake is applied on the top bars of the uppermost beehive box in a stack at a rate of 3 ounces per 9 shallow boxes or 5 deep beehive boxes. It is great for wax moth control in stored super boxes. After treatment and storage with the Mann Lake DC131 Para-Moth Wax Moth Control insecticide, make sure to air the boxes well for a few days.Check Price
Using the Mann Lake Para-Moth Wax Moth Control
Both the Mann Lake DC130 and DC131 Para-Moth control are easy to use. It is applied at a rate of 3 ounces for every stack of 5 deep boxes or 9 shallow beehive boxes. The 3 ounces of powder should not come into direct contact with your beehive boxes. A paper plate or other appropriate receptacle should be used to hold the powder and then placed in the beehive boxes stack. The entire stack should be covered with a tarp. Transparent plastic sheeting may also be used. This keeps the beehive boxes protected from the elements. Using plastic sheeting to cover your stack of beehive boxes allows light to the boxes which discourages wax moths from nesting in the boxes.
Beehive boxes stacked and treated with Para-Moth wax moth control should be aired for a few days before use. This makes sure that the wax moth control insecticide clears form the boxes. Para-Dichlorobenzene is harmful to humans and should not be consumed. It can cause damage to the kidneys and liver when ingested. With inadequate airing of treated boxes, the chemical compound will be found in your honey. The insecticide is surprisingly wax-safe. It also affects bees if it is not allowed enough time to dissipate from your beehive boxes. Air the beehive boxes in a place with sunlight and air circulation for best results.
Para-Dichlorobenzene is not approved for use with stored honey super boxes if they contain honey. It is also not for use with boxes that have frames with honey in them. The compound should also not be used in a hive with bees in it. Beekeepers using the insecticide should be cautious when handling. Protective gloves and goggles should be worn at all times when working with the insecticide. A respirator mask or other protection that filters the air you breathe should also be used. Clean all equipment that comes into contact with the insecticide after applying it.
3. Wax-Off Wax Moth Trap
Trapping wax moths helps beekeepers control infestations by reducing the number or wax moths in their apiaries. The traps attract wax moths so that they enter the trap instead of nearby beehives. The Wax-Off Wax Moth Trap is very promising and it is effective in attracting large numbers of adult wax moths into the trap. The liquid in the trap kills the moths that get stuck inside.
The Wax-Off Wax Moth Trap is built in a popular design. It makes use of a screw-on top that allows you to easily empty or refill the trap. The recipe used for the trap comes with the trap. It is safe and makes use of natural materials so the trap is friendly to the environment. The top handle of this wax moth trap gives you ease with hanging the trap. It provides many options for different attachments used by individual beekeepers.
The trap weighs 4.8 ounces when empty and measures 7.7 inches high with a cross-section of 5.6 x 5.6 inches.
The bait recipe you should use with the Wax-Off Wax Moth Trap makes use of vinegar, banana peels, sugar and water. In the absence of banana peels, apple peels work just as well. The recipe attracts wax moths and other predators of bees such as yellow jackets and hornets. This makes the trap very useful as a defense against wax moth infestations in your apiary. You should use one trap for every 4 beehives in the apiary. The trap should be placed near beehives, hung on a tree or post. Some beekeepers use a light source near the trap to increase the efficiency of the trap.Check Price
2. Blythewood Bee Company Enoz Para Moth Balls
The Enoz Para Moth Balls are an EPA approved chemical control for wax moths. The active ingredient in the balls are Para-Dichlorobenzene. They have no clinging odors. The Enoz Para Moth Balls also kill beetles and clothes moths, their eggs and larvae. The balls are used in air-tight conditions and are effective to a distance of up to 2 feet. Blythewood Bee Company is a reliable beekeeping equipment and supplies seller. It has many quality products for beekeepers that work very well for their intended purposes.
These para moth balls are great for both long-term and seasonal use by beekeepers. They work well in stored honey boxes. Beekeepers using the balls to control wax moths are assured of protection from wax moths all year round. The moth balls permeate crevices in beehive boxes to kill all wax moths. These para moth balls can be used with a hive that has a honeybee colony. The balls are placed 2 feet away from the beehive so that the smell does not affect the bees. At this distance, the balls act as a deterrent to wax moths entering the beehive.
The Blythewood Bee Company Enoz Para Moth Balls come in a pack weighing 5.3 ounces. The pack is 6.5 x 2 x 4 inches in dimension. This product is made in the USA so you are assured of timely delivery upon purchase.Check Price
1. Stop Mole Wax Moth Strips
The Stop Mole Wax Moth Strips are an insecticidal treatment for wax moths in beehives. It comes as 10 strips hermetically sealed in plastic and foil bagging. The strips are effective against all wax moth development stages. They measure 150 x 50 x 2.5 mm. the active ingredients of the Stop Mole strips are fir oil, Citral or Para-Dichlorobenzene and a few other auxiliary substances.
This wax moth treatment is great for use with light infestations of wax moths. It does not do much for heavily damaged honeycomb. In addition to killing wax moths and their larvae in your beehive, these strips will also help by deodorizing the beehive.
To use the Stop Mole strips for wax moth control, place the strips inside cellophane packing in your hive. Place them on frames for maximum effectiveness. The recommended rate is 1 strip of Stop Mole for every 10-12 beehive frames. The strips are left in the hive for 45 days and then removed. Makes sure to dispose of the Stop Mole strips properly.
The Stop Mole Wax Moth Strips weigh 3.84 ounces. The package measures 10.2 x 3.9 x 0.4 inches in dimension. When not in use, store the strips package in a dry place. Protection from sunlight is recommended. Do not remove the strips from the package when storing them. Additionally, make sure to store the strips at a temperature of between 00 C and 250 C.Check Price
Wax Moth Trap DIY – How to Make Your Own
The damage that wax moths can cause in a short span of time is very serious in beekeeping. Preventing the negative effects of wax moth infestation is top on the list for every beekeeper. Wax moth traps are a great way to prevent adult moths from entering beehives and laying eggs. There are commercial wax moth traps but you can make your own at home. DIY wax moth traps are effective in controlling wax moths. They use the same principle and bait as commercial wax moth traps.
To make your own wax moth trap, you need:
- An empty 2-L soda bottle
- Banana peels
The 2-liter sized soda bottle is great for the DIY wax moth trap. Sports drink bottles also work but will contain less of the bait.
- Cut a hole of 1-inch at the top of the soda bottle. The hole should be some distance below the top, preferably just below the shoulder.
- Mix water, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of vinegar in a jar and mix them well. The sugar should all dissolve in the water easily.
- Pour the water, sugar and vinegar mixture into the trap. You may use hot water to kill microbes that may cause spoiling of your bait. The bait mixture should fill the bottle to about 65%.
- Add the banana peel into the bottle. Replace the lid back onto the soda bottle. If you do not have banana peels, apple peels are a great substitute.
- If you got everything right, the mixture will ferment in a few days.
- Hang the bottle near your beehive to draw moths into it. Hanging each bottle a few feet away from your beehives allows you to cover up to 4 beehives with each trap.
Fermenting the sugar and vinegar mixture with banana peel in it attracts moths. This is because the mixture mimics beehive smells very well. Wax moths are drawn to the trap and enter it through the hole in the side. They drink from the bait mixture in the trap. The moths cannot easily get out of the trap and fall back in and drown. This trap is very effective and useful for beekeepers. It also traps other predatory insects that may cause harm to honeybees.
- For backyard beekeepers with small apiaries, you can increase the efficiency of this trap by having a light near it. Light attracts moth at night and makes them more likely to enter the trap instead of your beehives.
- Hang the trap using wire or string. The noose is best opposite the hole in the side of the bottle. This prevents entry of rainwater into the bottle. It also helps with better mimicry of a beehive entrance.
- This DIY wax moth trap is effective in providing protection for stored beehive boxes. Make sure to empty and replace the bait mixture in the trap periodically. If you have many of these traps, prepare adequate amounts of the bait mixture when setting the trap.
- The quality of ingredients you use in this wax moth trap does not matter much. Any type of sugar or vinegar should work just fine.
Tips for Wax Moth Control
Controlling wax moths is easier with strong honeybee colonies. The bees will fight off the wax moths entering the beehive. They can also remove wax moth larvae from the hive very well to end infestations. Weak colonies need help from the beekeeper. The available methods of controlling wax moth infestations in beekeeping range from preventive to active measures against wax moth larvae. They employ both chemical and non-chemical concepts to keep wax moths in check.
Beekeepers should be cautious and take protective measures when working with chemical wax moth control compounds. Gloves, goggles and a respirator mask should be worn at all times. Empty containers and other materials that come into contact with chemicals should be disposed of carefully. The chemicals should additionally be stored away from the reach of children in containers that do not allow leakage of the chemicals. In the event of accidental swallowing or contact of these wax moth control chemicals with the skin or eyes, be sure to follow the first aid instructions that come with the containers. You should also seek immediate medical attention to prevent accidental poisoning and other harm to yourself.
Use wax moth traps and encourage hive hygiene
It is not uncommon to see beekeepers that are hesitant to use chemicals in beekeeping. Indeed, organic beekeeping gives very pure honey and is environmentally friendly. These beekeepers are inclined to use the wax moth traps that we have discussed above. They should also practice excellent hive hygiene to reduce the material on which wax moth larvae can feed and hide. Wax comb should not be left lying in the hive. Frames and beehive boxes that are not in use should also be removed from the beehive. Beekeepers should also strongly consider supplementary feeding of weak honeybee colonies.
Freezing, dry conditions, and light
Wax moths can infest stored beehive boxes. This includes honey super boxes. The larvae will feed on wax in the honey supers and cause honey to spill out. These losses can be avoided by harvesting honey from honeycomb at the end of each honey flow season. Beekeepers that sell honey in comb should cut out the comb and put it in cold storage or sell it immediately. Stored beehive boxes are best stored in a place where light can enter them.
Dry conditions and light deter wax moths from nesting in the boxes and laying eggs in them. If your area has winters where temperatures drop significantly, you can store the beehive boxes in a dry place where they will freeze over. Freezing kills wax moth adults, larvae and eggs. A combination of all these beekeeping practices and wax moth control methods is sure to keep your apiary free of these pests.
Regularly inspect beehives
Regular inspection of beehives is important in beekeeping. Beekeepers carrying out a beehive inspection should be on the lookout for larvae of wax moths. The eggs are very difficult to spot in a beehive with bees flying around. Removal off larvae manually is one way to help your honeybees fight wax moths. You could also remove infested frames and clean them. Beehive boxes where you see wax moth larvae should also be removed from the hive. They should only be replaced once cleaned and free of moth larvae, eggs or pupa cocoons. Treating the boxes with some of the available chemical wax moth treatments is the surest way to make certain that the boxes will not lead to a re-infestation of your beehive.
A Final Word
Wax moth larvae is the destructive stage in the moth’s lifecycle. It shows clear preference for comb that has been used or is in use for brooding. Additionally, the larvae can feed on comb alone, so it is known to also cause havoc in honey super boxes. Larvae of wax moths can move from one beehive to another within an apiary. The infestation then spreads through your entire apiary and causes beekeepers massive losses! Use these wax moth traps and insecticidal control methods to enjoy wax moth-free beekeeping.
Have you ever used any of the was moth traps mentioned in this article? Let us know how effective they were for you in the comments below.