Posted on October 19, 2016.
It takes eight ounces of honey for bees to make one ounce of comb wax. That’s a lot of honey that the bees could have used to feed the hive or stored for later use. If frames of drawn comb are added to a hive it requires less work for the bees, and ultimately, provides more honey for the beekeeper come extraction time. Don’t discard your frames of drawn comb at the end of summer-store them over the winter for use next year.
WARNING: Without proper storage practices, your drawn comb frames will most likely be rendered unusable by invasive wax moths.
Wax moths are winged insects that will damage your comb and woodenware if precautions are not made to prevent their intrusions. Healthy hives of bees can manage wax moths on their own, but frames stored outside the hives are prime real estate for wax moths to take up residence. A sure sign of a wax moth infestation is web-like cocoons covering your frames.
When storing your frames of drawn comb, there are three things you should do to ensure the frames are able to be used come next spring:
- Freeze your frames: Extreme cold will kill wax moth larvae. Place your frames in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for two days before storing over winter.
- Light and Ventilation: Wax moths prefer small dark places. Storing your frames of drawn comb in well lit areas and providing maximum ventilation creates a hostile environment for wax moths. If you store your drawn comb frames in supers, make sure they are placed in adequate light and there is ample space between supers so air can flow freely.
- PDB: Traditional moth balls are made with chemicals that can harm bees and humans. PDB (para-dicholorobenzene) is a safe crystalline treatment available for use when dealing with wax moths. Stack your supers about five high and place a sheet of newspaper on top. It may be advisable to tape up all cracks between supers to ensure you have created a properly enclosed fumigation chamber. Place the PDB on top of the newspaper and put on a top cover. When spring arrives, make sure to air out PDB treated frames for a couple of days before adding to hives.
Don’t let wax moths destroy your bees’ hard work of drawing out comb. Utilize safe storage practices and help those bees make honey happen faster!