Wax moth infestation
I only have 2 or 3 hives going, so I've been putting each extracted, cleaned up, super in a plastic bag and freezing them for storage, stacked up. I've done this for the past 3 years with good success. Last week I noticed a lot of small flying moths in my shed, where I store all my beekeeping stuff. I checked my plastic-wrapped supers, and found winged moths crawling around inside the plastic. Also saw a lot of black larvae feces in the bottom super, and on the floor. When I lifted up the first 2 supers, I saw many holes in the plastic. Don't know if the moth larvae chewed through the plastic, or what. I'm wondering if my thin-mil bags are not insect resistant. (I think they were only 1 mil) Anyone have this problem? Would a 3 mil bag keep the insects out?
if you froze frames and box for 24-48 hours then I would suspect you knocked a whole in the bag (which with thin bags is almost always going to happen).
you seem to have done an excellent job in determing you own problem.
Adult moth layed eggs in your supers then the bag actually provided an ideal enviro for life cycle which you observed. The prob comes with exposure of comb to adult laying moth. The eggs are invisible to the naked eye and were in the comb when you enclosed it. I think a fertile adult female can lay between 1000 & 1500 eggs a day so it only takes one moth.
I put mine in a bag, freeze for 24-48 hours and when I take each bagged super out and I put it in a second bag (2 bags around super), then store, bags are real cheap. odd are you knocked a hole in it (bag), I just never liked the idea of spraying my comb with anything.
I've done the same freezer method as you did and had the same devastating results. This year I'm going to use the PDB to store them.
Once they get going the larvae will chew through a lot of things. Are you talking about lesser or greater wax moth? I'm guessing greater, since lesser don't seem to do too much damage. You may not have frozen the supers thoroughly enough, or they may have got in after they came out of the freezer. I haven't seen much of greater wax moth, but lesser will lay on the boxes,and then the newly hatched larvae can get through the smallest crack to reach the combs.
I saw this in the Taunton beekeepers magazine last month.
"Spiders are to be welcome as they will see off any wax moth that may be in the stack of supers.
The moth is more likely to be found in any brood frames that are to be over-wintered. 48 hours in the deep freeze will kill off any grubs or adults that may be present.
It is also a good idea to treat them with acetic acid whilst the temperatures are still moderate.
Place the supers with frames into a large plastic bag or on a floor with the entrance and joints sealed with parcel tape. Put about a third of a cup of acetic acid onto a pad and place this under a cover board on the top of the stack. Leave in position for a week and then ensure you air the frames for a further week. Acetic acid is very corrosive and metal ends should be removed. Needless to say, protective clothing should be worn during the first operation. "
Have not used acetic acid myself but would consider trying it if I had a bad infestation. Anyone else used it?
Don't know about the size of the holes, but mice are motivated to get to the comb and they make great nests. Perhaps they test it to see if they can get in?
Also, if there is a tiny hole, even if the moths can't get into it, they will lay their eggs there and the larvae can crawl in. Then they can start a new cycle that way. And the larvae can chew very well, as evidenced by the cocoon divots on the frames.
We have some nasty little moths in our kitchen(they do look like wax moths) that will infest a container with a screw-on cap that way...we won't think about it for a while, then open a bottle of hot pepper flakes and it will be full of larvae, moths, cocoons etc. Amazing, really, how they will have full life cycles trapped in a little bottle.
We have some nasty little moths in our kitchen(they do look like wax moths)
if my old entomology class lesson is still correct??? they are one and the same. I seem to recall that there are actually about 30 species of moths that are loosely called wax moths by beekeepers.