Thursday, 23 September 2010

Wax moth infestation- 5 ways to prevent this.

Wax moth infestation

We are getting lots of calls to the shop asking what products can be used to destroy wax moth eggs & larva and what can be done to prevent moths getting into your stored wax combs over the winter. Wax moth Achroia grisella are a pest that plague beekeepers throughout Britain. Feeding on honeycombs, they can quickly reduce a weak or unattended beehive to a webbing black mess destroying the combs. A strong colony will keep these moths at bay, chasing them out of the hive.

The adult moth lays its eggs in the combs that hatch into large larva that tunnel through honeycomb, eating the wax and excrement black waste. In its last stages of development the larva will pupates and burrows into any wood surface within the beehive. It forms a cocoon attached firmly to the wood that it will further develop within, emerging as a moth to carry on the cycle. This means any and all wood surfaces are badly damaged. The worst being the frames themselves. The typical area that wax moths burrow into are the underside of the frame lugs. This means that the entire frame structure is compromised as a result and can be thrown away.

What can be done!

Protecting your stored equipment is a must. The Hive Honey Shop designed and developed a special storage bag precisely for this problem. The Super Bee Bag was launched at the 1995 National Honey Show where it received an award for this innovation to beekeeping. The bag is a specially designed heavy duty polythene bag approx. 1.6m tall, enough room to stack 7 supers or 6 brood boxes within. Once the boxes filled with frames are inside you can empty half a cup of Acetic Acid onto an absorbing pad placed on the top box. The fumes of the Acetic Acid fall rather than rise. Wear a mask taking care not to breath the fumes or have contact with your skin. The bag comes with a metal tie. Gather the bag, twist and tie to securely close the bag. The bag will slightly inflate as the Acetic Acid fumes expand, fumigating the boxes, frames and comb. This is a successful method to destroy not only wax moth eggs and larva, but nosema spores, acarine and amoeba contaminated equipment. Well air for 48 hours prior to applying to a live colony. The fumes do not contaminant or leave any traces in the wax or wood.

You can also us paradichlorobenzene commonly know as PDF crystals as a fumigator, however these are not successful on combs filled with honey. Mothballs or naphthlene, a substance also found in air fresheners and insect repellents can be used as long as it does not come in contact with the comb or equipment. Direct contact can accumulate in the wax, which can kill the bees or contaminate the comb. Only use mothballs in and around the area where you store your equipment to discourage moths away from your area.

Freezing the combs is another way to rid any traces of wax moths where the comb will be eaten or sold. Place the entire frame in a large deep freezer and leave it for one week to freeze. Carbon Dioxide is used on a larger scale to fumigate honey filled combs.

Some ‘spray on the comb’ solutions are sold to kill wax moth eggs and larva on the combs. You spray this product on the face of each comb. We only use methods where no contamination or lasting trace elements to the honeycombs can occur. Using this method could result in a build up over time.

To date no traps have been found to completely protect beehives from wax moth infestation. So being vigilant, keeping your equipment clean and well protected is the only sure way to minimise wax moth infestation.

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Renew your bee hives now

The weather is just on the change and Autumn is just around the corner. Now is the time to get all your hive parts in shape. Over the next few blogs we will cover what to do with old worn bee hive parts and how to keep them serviceable.

Here we will talk about your hive roofs. It's easy to forget these and they are the important over all protector of your hive, so they need a little TLC ever so often. Rust can form on the steel roof cover and if left untreated it will soon eat away at the metal and holes will appear allowing water inside the bee hive.

At this time of year we always get to work to ensure the roofs go into the winter clean and sound. First if you do discover rust forming on the metal cover use sand paper to remove the rust. A hand orbital sander is much easier and well worth the expense as you will be sanding other hive parts from time to time and this will cut the time spent sanding by half.

After you remove all the rust treat the metal lid cover with WD40 or a similar anti rust oil formulation. Rub it well into the metal and leave it to soak in. Use a blow torch to heat treat and sterilise the inside of the roof. Wipe the wood clean with a rag. If the inner ventilation mesh is damaged, replace it.

Now's the time to sand and repaint or restain the roof wood parts. That's it! Your roof is ready for the long wet months ahead. Do the same in the spring and your hive roof will last many many years to come.

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop

Thursday, 2 September 2010

How much time does it take to look after a beehive?

It's a funny thing, the most commonly asked question about beekeeping is 'how much time does it take to look after a beehive'.

I was thinking about how much time I actually spend INSIDE a beehive compared to the 'beekeeping' I do without the bees. In other words beekeeping related tasks for the welfare of a beehive. This involves the maintenance cleaning, repairs, renewing frames, brood/super boxes, extracting honey, bottling, scrapping wax & propolis off equipment, painting, staining, sterilising wood, feeding, protecting the bees from wasps, mice, keeping the apiary site clean, cut and safe......

I realised that only 32% of my time is actually spent handling the bees, 68% of my time is spent in necessary affiliated tasks to maintain the health and prosperity of the colony. So with that in mind, I strongly suggest to all beekeepers to take advantage of this warm dry weather and get all your 2011 beekeeping activities in order now. Make up your brood & super frames now, otherwise you could be caught short when in the spring your bees expand quickly.

Renew all old/damaged hive parts, clean equipment well and store away in a dry place, wrapped well to keep mice and moths out! Its easy to think that now we have extracted all our honey the beekeeping year has come to a close-WRONG. We still need to get all our beekeeping equipment and sites in order now for 2011. I have a tick list of all equipment I have and what I need to buy, assemble etc. It will make your beekeeping spring of 2011 a really pleasant experience this way.

photo copyright 2010 ©-The Hive Honey Shop