Can Honey Bees Rehab Comb Damaged by Wax Moths?

Ask the Expert!

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Dave D asks: How effectively can bees rehab comb that has been damaged by wax moths?


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Josh Vaisman replies:

Oh man, there are few things more frustrating than a wax moth infestation. They are so destructive to the comb! The brief answer is yes, in most cases the bees can rehab comb damaged by wax moths.

A couple things to consider. First, decide if the comb is actually salvageable. For example, if you use plastic foundation, have the wax moths destroyed the comb down to the foundation? Plastic foundation comes with a thin sheet of beeswax on it but when the wax moths eat up all the wax all you’re left with is straight plastic. Bees will typically not rebuild comb directly on plastic. If you use wax foundation or are foundation-less you’ll want to decide if the damage to the comb is so severe it’s not worth salvaging. For example, if there are gaping holes in the comb that might be time to call it quits on that frame’s comb.

Next, you’ve got to eliminate the wax moth problem. To do this, you’ll want to freeze the comb that’s been infested.  We have a large chest freezer in our garage so I’ll throw the frames in there for 24 hours. This will kill off any young wax moth larva and eggs. Of course, if this comb has any of your bees brood in it, they will die as well. Don’t worry, the bees will clean that out when they get the comb back.

In my experience, once the wax moth problem has been eliminated and I give that comb back to the bees, they repair and re-use it in fairly short order so long as they have the resources (eg, nectar/honey) to do so.

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