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Wax worms are the larval stage of the wax moth, and they can cause a lot of damage to a beehive. The worms eat through the wax in the combs of the beehive, and if not exterminated, they will eventually chew through the wood that surrounds the comb. If the damage to the hive is extensive, it can destroy the entire bee colony. Because wax worms cannot live in cold weather, the most effective way to get rid of them is by freezing them.
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Identify and remove any infested hive frames from the hive. Infested frames are identifiable by the presence of the wax worms — which are white with brown, round heads, holes in the wax part of the hive frame or webbing on the surface of the wax or wood part of the frame. Dark fecal matter is also a sign of wax worms.
Insert the infested hive frames into a plastic bag and place them in a freezer. The freezer temperature should be at or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Wax worms will die after five hours, but it's best to leave the infested frames in the freezer for at least two days, according to Brushy Mountain Bee Farm.
Remove the hive frames from the freezer. Use a putty knife to scrape away fecal matter and combs with holes in them. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and remove any remaining wax worms or webbing with your fingers.
Place the hive frames back into the hive after inspecting the hive for any further infestation.
The most effective way to prevent a wax worm infestation is by keeping your hive strong and healthy. Inspect your hive regularly and remove sparsely populated frames and combine weaker hives with stronger ones to ensure they are properly protected.
Solomon Branch specializes in nutrition, health, acupuncture, herbal medicine and integrative medicine. He has a B.A. in English from George Mason University, as well as a master's degree in traditional Chinese medicine.