Wax Moth?


I noticed two of these little grubs cocooned and burrowed in the insulation of one of my hives today. This photo shows a close up the grub after I cleared away the web-like cocoon. It’s about 2cm long.

Can anyone tell me if this is wax moth? I’m guessing it is. Second question: What can I do about it at this time of year? I just wrapped the hives for winter. I don’t plan on messing with them again until mid-February at the earliest.

I scraped away the grubs along with some earwigs. I’ve seen one or two of these grubs in the cracks of the outer cover a few times over the summer, though not in any kind of cocoon. I scraped them away immediately. I’ve never seen them inside the hive, though I haven’t done a full hive inspection since September.

As far as I can tell, the colony has been healthy and active with a strong population and plenty of winter stores. My feeling is the bees can handle it. I’d rather leave them alone. I welcome anyone’s advice. Thanks.

UPDATE (Nov. 22/10): I’ve had time to dig a little deeper and I got my answers. Yes, it’s a wax moth larva. And no, I shouldn’t have to worry about it at this time of year. From page 119 of The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum: “Once the outside temperature goes below 40°F (5°C), the temperature essentially halts all moth activity (but does not eliminate them), and your supers are safe for the winter, no matter where or how you store them, as long as it stays that cold.” That’s good enough for me. The colony is otherwise healthy and strong and will probably deal with any remaining moth larvae on its own in the spring. Had I noticed large number of wax moth cocoons and larvae in the hives during warmer weather, I would have had to freeze the effected frames for 48 hours to kill all remnants of the moth. We’ll cross that bridge if we ever get to it. Back to winter relaxing now.

3 thoughts on “Wax Moth?

  1. We’ve never had wax moths in the winter, but I’m glad to know I wouldn’t have to deal with them below 40 degrees.

    I live near Atlanta, Georgia, USA and we don’t have winters with frigid temps (except this week) so we’ve never wrapped our hives for the winter. I’m just curious, do you monitor your hives for excessive moisture since they are wrapped. I’ve heard that it can be a big problem if it happens.

    • I’ve heard that wrapping hives can create moisture problems too. I’ve heard different stories from different beekeepers on the beekeeping forums. Some wrap without any problems and they have better winter survival rates on the hives that are wrapped. Others wrap and see no difference in survival rates. And some don’t wrap but use screened bottom boards for extra ventilation. It all seems to depend on your local environment.

      Around here, as far as I know from the two professional keepers on the island, wrapping is used mostly as a wind break because we can get can some seriously high winds around here. Neither of them have mentioned any problems with moisture. The wrap around my hives seems moist all the time, so I would think moisture would be a problem too. I don’t know for sure. I’ll see what happens in the spring when I unwrap them.

      I also put a piece of insulation between the inner and outer cover to reduce condensation build up inside the hive.

  2. I spotted more wax moth cocoons under the top covers of two hives today. It looks like this is the time of year that they show up.

    I also found large numbers of ear wigs. I wouldn’t call it an infestation, but it’s getting there.

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