What are wax moths and what kind of damage do they make in a beehive?

Bee Health February 25, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

There are two species of wax moth that cause damage to honey bee colonies by consuming beeswax as their larvae develop and in the process of making a pupal cocoon they score the wooden frames that hold the wax combs, weakening the wood. Damage becomes obvious as they produce large quantities of gray-white webbing and dark fecal material as they feed. The larger of the two species (3/4 inch long gray-brown adult), the greater wax moth, Gallaria melonella causes more damage and has a wider distribution while the lesser wax moth, Achroia grisella is more limited to warmer southern states. Wax moths are not a cause of colony death, they come in later after some other factor/malady has reduced the population of honey bees. Strong colonies of honey bees with large worker population can reduce numbers of wax moth to a level where they cause little damage. - John Skinner, University of Tennessee

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.