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First hand view of Wax Moth and Damage


I missed the bee group last week as I was working but managed to go tonight.

We had an old hive that was left and attacked by Wax Moths

Thought it would be interesting for those who have not seen them, as I had not, so you can Identify the moth and the damage it does.

The Culprit the UK Wax Moth (Aphomia sociella)

Damage to the comb

The larvae make tracks across the comb and destroy it.

The cocoons they left behind

Trails in the comb

Some robbing has been going on as well from other bees

Cost of Flow Hives

Very clear photos Valli, the moths just look like ordinary harmless moths. If your bee colonies are strong, the moth will not be an issue but they get in to old supers left behind and failing colonies. All the more reason to be vigilant in managing your hives and inspecting regularly. We can’t let “bees be bees” otherwise we could end up losing all our bees. How did they end up resolving this Valli? Freezer?


Those are beautiful photos of wax moth in action. We never have to worry about wax moth damage as long as we keep our hives strong & healthy. Wax moth is one of mother natures ways of turning a hive that has died out into a pile of dirt. Robber bees, ants, shb, cockroaches, wax moth, all play their part in achieving this. The best advice I could offer any new beekeeper is to not have too many boxes & frames for the size of the colony.


They are the hives belonging to the group at Solihull. Some old frames one of the group had. Destroy wax most is quite old. He was sorting through which to destroy and which frames can be boiled in Soda Crystals.


Can you explain this more, I haven’t come across this before.


@adagna Adam they use wooden Nationals with the end clips on - pretty much those in the pictures. Some of the wax can be rendered and used for other things not hives but the frames can be kept wax pretty much is burned.

BBKA http://www.bbka.org.uk/local/gwent/bm~doc/newsletter-mar2012.pdf

  1. CLEAN AND PREPARE YOUR EQUIPMENT. The Association has, for hire, an excellent steam cleaner for
    melting down your old comb. Beware however, that wax moth can survive being steamed! If you only have a
    box or two or a few frames, then WASHING SODA is a good option. Here is an abridged article from ‘The
    Apiarist’ the newsletter of Harrogate and Ripon BKA, via eBees, although it originated in the Cambridge BKA
    and came via Bournemouth and Dorset South BKA…
    Do You Remember…
    … your grandmother did her spring cleaning or her la…

This is from Bee Base - National Bee Unit on cleaning with Soda Crystals

Hope it works - I have a login - If not I’ll try put up the .pdf



Hi Adagna, the wax can be boiled down & cleaned with the rest of your wax. The used water & slumgum can be used as fertilizer. Another option for the wooden frames is a light scorching if disease is a concern. All the wax moths larvae becomes part of the slumgum.


Hi Valli,
This is Jeffs wife Wilma. While i have not joined the forum myself I have been following it through Jeffs connection. I have just been reading this post, and i was wondering what chemical cleaners we should be using to clean our gear?, as I do a lot of the cleaning. Could you advise me please.


Wilma I’m not sure why you are asking me specifically. What gear are you talking about, Hives, Equipment or Clothing?


I’m curious as well. I can’t imagine using any chemical to clean equipment nor have I heard of anyone else doing that either. There are additives and disease/peast controls that can help bees, but I don’t even bring those around if they aren’t needed. The best things I’ve heard bout cleaning is freezing and scorching the inside of boxes.


@Valli less use of chemical cleaners.
Hi again Valli. I was talking about the equipment. I was reading your post, where you said chemicals were required to clean equipment (gear), associated with extracting honey the traditional way.
Thank you for answering my question Wilma.


Our Bee group Soak the hive tools in “Soda Crystals” NOT the same as Caustic Soda!!!

"Sodium hydroxide, NaOH is also called lye or caustic soda. It is harmful to the skin. very alkaline

Soda crystals is another name for sodium carbonate or washing soda. also very alkaline.

Definitely not the same thing."


Thank you, it sounds like it might be wise to avoid using something like that as much as possible


@tony inorder to control the transfer of certain diseases - nosema, AFB, EFB, and spore or bacteria based diseases, it is necessary to “Sterilize” the equipment even from Hive to Hive.

Most of these diseases cannot be seen until it is too late. Boiling, Freezing and scorching only deal with certain pests. Metal and more durable hive hardware, Clothing, gloves etc, can transfer disease hive to hive. Soda Crystals, Paraffin, are ways to eradicate most unwanted nasties, AFB - just burn and destroy the whole shebang, never put near bees again.

In the UK we are less reliant on Antibiotics, invasive treatments, quite a few people world wide would rather use more “natural” or mechanical types of treatments.

What ever you use then you must be vigilant - CCD is a fact and how you deal with bees is your choice, faced with that I think I like the idea of "sterilizing my equipment in Soda crystals or Paraffin.


Here in the UK as part of a national control of disease…British Beekeepers Association encourage beekeepers to use something to clean their hive tools…to wear nitrile disposable gloves…and change them at the very least between apiaries. Also to wash your beesuit between apiaries or at least wash regularly. You could use a jar of surgical spirit to wash your hive tools…or some washing soda crystals…diluted in some water…tells you on the packet how to use for cleaning. It is a good idea to use rubber gloves when using washing soda as it quickly affects the skin.
Many people feel that it is a bit …over the top…within your own apiary…as the bees will all be mixing to a certain extent anyway. Open feeding is frowned upon as that can attract outside bees to your apiary.
I use a product called Certan…which you dilute in a spray bottle with water…you then spray all your dry frames with comb which you want to store…that will keep them clear of wax moth. I then store them in large strong black bags. After the supers are cleaned at the end of the season…I also spray them with the Certan before storage. Although I am not in favour of lots of chemicals used in the care of bees…apiary hygiene does help reduce the spread of disease.


Hi Tony, I swear by scorching, no disease or pest will survive a good scorching. I’ve heard of people burning their whole hive upon discovering AFB. I will never do that. If it’s hot enough to scorch timber or blister oil based paints, I reckon it’ll kill any disease. I even scorch the frames. I don’t know how the flow frames would cope with boiling, I believe they have been tested to 70degC… It’s always prudent to treat any secondhand equipment as if it’s diseased, I always give it a scorching before using it.


Sadly disease and pests do survive scorching. Here in the UK hives with AFB usually are destroyed completely and the remains are buried to make sure no contact can be picked up by bees. EFB…the brood frames are usually burnt. Plastic or poly hives are usually treated with government recommended chemicals. You can’t do that with wood as it is permeable. Lots of people have questioned the efficacy of chemical treatment but the Governing body is satisfied it is safe.


Ok, so what will you do if a hive that includes a flow super & frames ends up with AFB? If your/my hive ends up with AFB, it’s no reflection on you/me. It’s a fact of life that bees will try to steal other bees honey during lean times. If a hive is drastically weakened because of afb, it is venerable to robber bees that will take the disease back to their hives. I have found scorching to be very effective in my operation. No disease or egg would survive the scorching that I do. Guaranteed.


It’s ok because plastic doesn’t absorb anything. They can be sterilised with chemicals same as plastic hives etc. wood is a permiable material…absorbs liquids…and you can’t get it out. Virus gets into the wood…scorching only does the surface so virus can survive it. You can’t soak the wood with chemicals as again it absorbs the chemicals and you can’t get it out…so if you subsequently put bees in…might not be too good.
Scorching has worked for many years with wooden hives but these new bugs can survive within the wood itself and in the joints. That is why in the UK…they are burnt. I agree about the no blame thing for beekeepers in regard to AFB(American foul brood) and EFB(European foul brood)…the bees spread it as well as beekeepers. If we are all being as careful as possible…you can still get it. Many of the outbreaks here have happened near factories which import honey…they arnt always very careful with empty containers.


Irradiation with gamma rays, the flow plastic will stand up to this and it is used in the food industry. For those in Australia, Steritech has a site in most of the capital cities.