Monday, March 28, 2011

Attack of the Wax Moths!

Wax Moths on frames
Spring is an exciting time for a beekeeper.  We have had to keep our hands out of our hives all winter long and we are all chomping at the bit to see what our girls have been up to!  As I noted in a previous post, we lost one hive in early January, and I'm sorry to say that we lost another hive since then, so I'm down to one hive.  I decided to buy a package of bees so I could start the spring with two colonies.  I'll give a full report of installing the package in a future post, but I wanted to use this one to focus on my bee equipment.

Properly storing equipment over the winter is very important.  Frames, foundation, and boxes should be stored in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place.  One of the main reasons for this is to prevent wax moth damage.  Surprise surprise- wax moths feed on wax and a cool, dark, place with lots of food available is an ideal place for them to spend the winter and raise babies. 
A frame of wax foundation destroyed by wax moths
Cluster of wax moth eggs on a frame (Photo credit: David Wheeler)
Larva sandwiched in between the frames and the flap of a cardboard box
Apparently, I did a bad job of storing my equipment, because when I opened up my equipment this spring, I found some of it covered in wax moths, webbing, feces, and larva.  I have a feeling that this happens to a beekeeper only once.... because it is so incredibly disgusting.
Frame covered in webbing and feces... eww.
We had to throw away some of the foundation and frames because they were so badly damaged and infested.  Also, the wax moth larva attach to the wood and create gouges that will need to be sanded and repainted. 
Damage on a hive box from wax moth larva

As I said, this was so disgusting that I vow to properly store my equipment next year!

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