Can I Save My Plastic Frames with Wax Moth Damage?

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Can I Save My Plastic Frames with Wax Moth Damage?

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Dave D asks:

I have some plastic frames that had severe wax moth damage, they were also never fully drawn out. I have scraped them down to the plastic as much as practical and am wondering if there is a way to rehab them that is worth the effort.


Rusty Burlew replies:

Freezing is the very best way to kill wax moths on frames, whether it’s made of wood or plastic. Freezing is effective because it kills all life stages of the moth: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. If your freezer is very cold, an overnight freeze is usually sufficient, but if your freezer is less cold, two or three days may be necessary. As a general rule, a chest freezer is colder than the freezer unit in a refrigerator.

However, once the moths are dead, the frames need to be inserted into a strong colony or stored in a place where flying wax moths can’t get to them. Freezing has no protective action. Once the frames return to room temperature, they must be kept away from egg-laying adult moths.

When dealing with wax moths, it helps to remember what they want. Just like all animals, they need a source of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Wax moths get these from detritus in the brood cells — the cocoons, feces, dead bees, and parasites that accumulate there. Usually, cells that never contained brood, such as honey cells, don’t attract the moths.

Wax moths are no match for a strong colony, so they are opportunists, always seeking out the weaker colonies that don’t have enough bees to raise brood, store honey, and defend the hive. These are the types of colonies that succumb to moths.

The frame in your photo doesn’t look like it has much to offer a wax moth, so don’t be afraid to re-use it. If you want to freeze it, that’s fine, but you probably don’t need to. As long as you keep your colonies strong, the wax moths will move on, searching for easier pickings.

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