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The Wax Moth can be a serious pest for both Honeybees and Bumblebees. There are two species in the UK: The Lesser Wax Moth (Achroia grisella) and the Greater Wax Moth (Galleria mellorella). The adults do not represent a problem as they only feed on liquids, nectar and pollen, but their larval stage can be deadly to bee colonies, and in particular Bumblebee colonies. Adult moths can fly at lower temperatures than bees and will mate, and lay eggs, at night. The Wax Moths often lay their eggs on the outside of the Bee colonies, such as on the exterior of Beepol Bumblebee Villas, or if they can get access, on the outside of the cardboard container inside the Beepol Villa. In warmer temperatures these eggs will hatch within a few days. In cooler temperatures they develop much more slowly but still tend to develop, even if it takes several months. The eggs hatch into small larvae, which are highly mobile and capable of crawling through very small spaces.
Once the larvae get access to the Bee brood, the damage is often fatal. The larvae burrow into bee cells destroying them and the young bee larvae inside. They also secrete a sticky substance, which often traps and seals in the bee larvae, preventing them from emerging. They also create spider-like webbing inside the colony, which the adult bees are not able to remove. The Wax Moth larvae are very small to start with but develop into quite large grubs. They are often a white to green colour and can appear in large numbers.
If you already have an existing Beepol Villa that you wish to repopulate with a new Bumblebee colony, make sure it is free of Wax Moth pupae, eggs or larvae before you place the colony inside. The Wax Moth larvae often burrow into the wood surface, so they must be removed with a wire brush and by washing the inside of the Beepol Villa with warm water and fairy liquid. Once you have inserted your new Beepol colony in the Villa, monitor it on a regular basis for Wax Moth larvae. They normally appear from June onwards but can appear earlier in a warm spring. Often the larvae will first be identified on the inside of the Villa but on the outside of the Bumblebee colony. These should be removed if possible, or treated with our Wax Moth Killer Nematodes. The nematodes should be sprayed directly onto the Wax Moth grubs, but not inside the bee colony. The nematodes kill the Wax Moth grubs but do not harm the bees.