So, did you manage to store some drawn comb, or extracted comb from last year?

In order to overwinter these I use a sheet of newspaper between the boxes so if one box has wax moth, it cannot enter the other boxes in the stack. Unfortunately this year I found that wax moth eggs were present in one of the boxes that contained what initially looked to be exceedingly good drawn comb. I only noticed the wax moth as a whitish ‘thread-like’ string about 50mm across the face of the drawn comb, literally as I was about to put it in a brood box to replace old comb. Quick reversal of that plan! If in doubt destroy the comb completely and use fresh foundation if you have nothing else.

Photos can be seen on the National Bee Unit site and there is a particularly good one of the ‘wax moth trail’ here. Some of their photos show a really bad infestation but if you check your comb thoroughly you will see it long before it reaches this stage.

And if you use polystyrene hives, don’t think that your boxes are safe!  When scrubbing a brood box this year I discovered a wax moth larvae nestled nicely in a hole within the hive wall which I can only assume had been burrowed into.

In some ways, our bees miss the involvement of wax moth. In the wild, when bees leave their nest, either through swarming out or as result of disease, the wax moth goes in, destroys the comb and with it any disease that was present. Thus performing almost a cleansing and sterilising operation on the cavity, making it ready for a new colony of bees to set up in a nice disease-free environment.
With managed colonies, it falls to us beekeepers to ensure that our bees are in a clean, healthy box with good foundation or drawn/extracted comb as needed. With extracted comb, even if it looks really ‘lumpy’ the bees will appreciate that all they need to do is tidy it up and make it ready for the queen to lay in if it’s brood comb, or store nectar in if it’s super comb.

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