The infamous wax moth. These guys can destroy entire frames of honeycomb.
If you’re searching for a way to kill wax moths, look no further.
For those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, we are approaching winter and many beekeepers are removing honey supers and storing them away.
Most of you will be familiar with the benefits of freezing frames before storage. For those that aren’t familiar already, this is done to ensure that any evil wax moth larvae or eggs that are hidden away in the wax comb are killed off.
The infamous wax moth
These guys are everywhere. They go by the scientific names of Galleria mellonella and Achroia grisella. Agreed, those are stupid names. We’d go so far as to assume they came up with those names themselves.
Not knowing where they originated from, nor what their end game is, we don’t care to learn any more about these creatures than we need to. All we know is that they have a lust for wax, a vendetta against beekeepers, and they know when your back is turned!
If left to their own devices, these little pests can thrive. It can be very frustrating to come back to your honey supers in Spring, only to find a pile of chewed out and destroyed comb.
Drawn frames are valuable resources for beekeepers, so it is important that time and effort is invested into preserving them. Short of hunting the moths and their larvae down and prosecuting them individually, our best weapon against them is to sap their will to live by exposing them to the depths of our freezers.
How long do we freeze frames for?
The popular opinion on this varies, but for the most part, we see recommendations of freezing for around 48hrs. This is what we have always done, and it worked fine for us when we could freeze a whole bunch of frames at once.
However, we are ‘between freezers’ at the moment. We had intended to buy a new large deep freezer prior to Winter, but with all the hoarders buying up the freezers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been left with just our standard fridge/freezer to do our frame freezing.
People’s need to store half a cow and 2 years worth of frozen vegies is obviously very important… Less than ideal for everyone else including us beekeepers, but we’ll get by!
As we can only freeze 12 frames at a time, we’re interested to know exactly how long we really need to freeze frames for. We plan on rotating them out of the freezer as quickly as we can, so we did some research to find out whether 48 hours is what’s needed or not.
How long do frames need to be frozen for to kill wax moth?
For the killing of wax moths, wax moth larvae and wax moth eggs the following periods of freezing are advised:
@ -6.7 C / 20 F for 4.5 [email protected] -12.2 C / 10 F for 3 hours
@ -15 C / 5 F for 2 hours
So from the above times and temps, you can see that 48 hours is a bit of an overkill. There certainly would not be any harm in freezing for longer, but it is not necessary.
What we will point out though is that the above times and temps adhere to the understanding that;
– the time starts only once the frames have gotten to the desired temperature, not from the moment they are placed in the freezer,
– the freezer is actually at the correct temperature (use a thermometer to check if you can).
If placing whole boxes full of frames into a freezer, allow for the fact that it may take a considerable amount of time for all the frames to cool down to temperature.
For us, with our freezer set as cold as it goes, we’ll be able to get a couple of rotations of frames down each day and then leave some in the freezer overnight.
A bit more work required for us than usual, but not the end of the world!
How to store frames to prevent wax moth damage
Once the frames have been removed from the freezer, it is important to consider the following.
Frames returned to boxes with unfrozen frames risk re-infection.
Essentially, the grimy little suckers can crawl from other frames onto your freshly frozen frames and re-infest them. This is less than ideal of course, and defeats the purpose of freezing in the first place.
To prevent this, keep your frozen frames segregated from the rest of your frames.
No matter how many wax moth traps or bug zappers you have around, the moths will find your frames again. In order to counter their attacks, it is essential to keep your frames sealed in airtight containers.
If you have large airtight containers to store the frames in, then that is great. If not, we’ve found that lining the insides of boxes with garbage bags works okay. Simply place the frames inside the garbage bag lined boxes and seal the bags up.
Doing this you can stack the boxes quite tidily.
You may also get by with just stacking your frames in supers and ensuring that the seals between the boxes and lids are all taped up.
Either way, just ensure that there are no entrances for moths, or they will find their way in.
No matter what you’ve done above, it can pay to periodically check on your frames. Despite your best efforts, you may have left some spaces for moths to get in, or you accidentally left an unfrozen frame in with the rest.
Either way, it definitely pays to check up on your frames every now and then. It’s much easier to just refreeze a box of frames and re-seal them again than it is to replace a whole shed full of frames. Because as we know, when Spring comes around and you need frames asap, ain’t no one got time fo’ that!
We hope this post has provided you with the information you need to combat the evil wax moths. All the best with this ongoing battle.If you need any further information or clarification, please comment below.