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Author Topic: confession of a wax moth grower  (Read 2155 times)
beecanbee
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« on: September 15, 2009, 09:55:56 PM »

I have a confession to make – I have been growing wax moths.  I have done this as a bit of an experiment – to see just how long the moths would survive.  In the past I have also submerged scrapings in water, buried the stuff, or have burned it.  If one kept chickens, I suppose they could benefit from pecking at the larva, but I am not where I could do this.

In early summer - I removed wax moth fouled comb from a failed hive and disposed of it in a compost/recycle bin.  This is a plastic bin, open to the bottom, with a removable lid, which is meant to sit over a hole you would dig into the ground.  It is designed for you to discard any vegetative kitchen scraps that you want to turn into compost.

I placed my bin on top of a large compost pile – where it can get lots of warm sun, and where it is well drained thru the compost below it.  This should be a nearly perfect environment for the wax moth.  Each time I add new kitchen waste, which is generally once a week - I have been opening it, making my deposit, and quickly closing it before the wax moths fly out, and over to my hives.  For over two months – I have seen gads of moths fly up to escape upon each opening.  I plan to keep this up thru spring – to see if I still find moths from eggs they would have laid this year.

My preliminary conclusion here is that one should always burn or freeze – and not simply discard, nor bury any unwanted comb – lest it contribute to a wax moth population increase. 

Any guesses as to whether or not I will have wax moths come spring from the setup?
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Paul

“I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."  Duncan Vandiver

A boy can do half the work of a man, but two boys do less, and three boys get nothing done at all. Smiley

(False) Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.  - Samuel Johnson
Sparky
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2009, 10:23:58 PM »

I do not know what the requirements are needed to over winter the larvae of a wax mouth but I must say that I am shocked that you as a bee keep would even consider raising the pest that would cause you and your bees so much grief.
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johnnybigfish
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2009, 10:27:57 PM »

Wax worms make GREAT fishing bait!

your friend,
john
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beecanbee
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2009, 12:21:25 AM »

I am shocked that you as a bee keep would even consider raising the pest that would cause you and your bees so much grief.

Yup - I agree with you.  But I have seen recommendations that ruined comb could simply be discarded - hence my test to see if this is the case.  So far, I believe I have proven that one should not simply discard - but instead should always freeze, burn, or bury (deeply).  That is, short-term (same season) discarding is not recommended - but what about long term (next season) damage?

Also - I have hives open to the ground for the purpose of allowing wax and other discards to fall to the ground and be consumed by whatever is there - much as might occur in a natural tree hive.  I want to see if wax moth eggs/larva survive the winter, or whether I should possibly do something to the earth beneath these hives during the winter.

I will not be adding any more wax to this composter - so come spring I want to see if moth eggs survive our mild winters - or whether I need to deep-freeze.  Of course I know that burning works quite well - but I have apiaries some distance away where burning is not an option since it take so long, and I prefer to not transport the gunk back home if possible.
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Paul

“I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."  Duncan Vandiver

A boy can do half the work of a man, but two boys do less, and three boys get nothing done at all. Smiley

(False) Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.  - Samuel Johnson
David LaFerney
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2009, 08:49:06 AM »

"Know thy self, Know thy enemy." 

Pretty smart I think.  I don't imagine that the main thrust of pest management is to have an environment free of pests, but to learn to manage the hives despite their presence.

For example I've never had bees before, and as far as I know there haven't been any domestic hives nearby for years - so no artificial build up of bee related pests.  But a few weeks ago just at dusk I witnessed a number of SHB seemingly rise up from the ground and descend on my hives.  Eliminating them from the environment doesn't seem to be an option - they have become entrenched. So I'll have to learn to deal with their presence or fail.

Please keep us informed of whatever you learn.
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"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Samuel Clemens

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kdm
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« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2009, 09:43:08 AM »

 Wax worms are natures way of cleaning up disease from dead & weak bees & comb.
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2009, 12:45:54 PM »

Strong hives can keep them under control.  If you get cold during the winter, this will knock back the population.  The compost actually probably nourished as many wax worms as the comb did.  I've read that SHB can live and multiply in old fruit.

I've heard on one of the beek message boards of a guy who would keep one old hive just for the moths...insert the old blackened comb and frames and pull out a nice clean one, plus presto fishing bait!

Whether you have 1 or 200 moths, if you have a weak hive they can take over.

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Rick
beecanbee
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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2009, 11:05:18 PM »

The compost actually probably nourished as many wax worms as the comb did.  ...  Whether you have 1 or 200 moths, if you have a weak hive they can take over. 

Point taken.  Actually, I have given up on my wax moth hatchery.  Every time I opened the composter lid a few moths would escape, so I pulled out the bug spray.

Instead – I have set aside one of my concrete tube hive bases, and have covered it over for the winter.  It had wax debris within it, so I will see what it looks like come next spring and summer.
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Paul

“I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."  Duncan Vandiver

A boy can do half the work of a man, but two boys do less, and three boys get nothing done at all. Smiley

(False) Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.  - Samuel Johnson
ayyon2157
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2009, 05:38:05 PM »

     I am going to suggest something I know nothing about, and guess that what we are talking about is what is called "bee moths" and sold for fish bait.  There were semi-secret "formulas" for growing  them.  One I remember used a glycerin based food, and set a jug of them on top of a water heater for the correct temperature.

     There was a fellow who specialized in fish bait who could get them to lay their eggs in a strip of  corregated cardboard rolled up and about as wide as one of the larvae was long, so it was easy to just unroll the strip and tear off one worm at a time as needed.  Last I knew, fishermen were still bemoaning the belief that the "secret" died with him.

     Take it for what it is worth.

ayyon2157
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William H. Michaels
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