It’s time to harvest your honey. Unfortunately, you find white worms in your honey – but can you eat honey with wax moths?. You may realize that these are not technically worms, but wax moth larvae. Whether or not you should eat the honey is a more difficult question to answer.
You can technically eat honey that contains a few wax moths with little webbing, however, you need to take the necessary precautions to do so.
There are good arguments for and against eating honey that has wax moths. Let’s take a look at what wax moths are, what you can do to get rid of them, and what you should do with the honey.
The Argument Against Eating Honey That Contains Wax Moths
Wax moths themselves are not toxic. However, like any wild creature, they can carry diseases that could make you ill. This is the main premise behind the belief you can’t eat wax moths.
The second issue is that wax moth larvae don’t just eat honey. They secrete a sticky substance that can damage the hive and make the honey unfit for humans. Along with the eating and secreting, they are pooping.
The thought of eating wax moth poop disturbs many people more than the thought of eating the larva itself.
Of course, honey with wax moths also contains wax moth eggs. These eggs are more difficult to see and remove than the larva, which is also a problem for people who don’t want insect eggs in their honey.
The Argument For Eating Honey With Wax Worms
Wax moths are the scourge of beekeepers, but many say they don’t have to ruin the honey. They point out that while wax moths can carry bacteria and other pathogens, honey has an excellent defense against this type of contamination.
Honey is antibacterial and antifungal. It’s also very acidic, which helps keep it free from pathogens. Of course, there are rare bacteria that can get around honey’s defenses, like botulism. However, when it comes to the wax moth, they are not known to spread disease. In fact, they may help prevent diseases in bee colonies. It does this by eating unoccupied combs, before disease can spread.
Wax Moths as a Food Source
Another reason eating honey with wax moths might be safe is that wax worms themselves are edible. Wax worms have been popular for many years as a food source for pets like reptiles.
Many pet owners would simply start raising their own wax moths, so they have a steady supply of food. However, the wax moth’s sweet flavor has humans giving it a second look. Because the worms feed on honey, they have a sweet pleasant taste. As the world searches for environmentally friendly protein sources, the wax moth may become a star.
What Should You Do With the Honey?
If wax moths have infested your frames, you have two options. The first is to allow the bees to eat the honey. The second option is to consume the honey as you would normally do.
In either case, you’ll need to freeze the frame for at least two days. This will kill the wax worm eggs and larva.
After it’s been frozen, you can replace the frame in the hive. Leave the caps off so the bees can eat the honey.
If you choose to use the honey for consumption, you’ll need to filter it after freezing.
How Do You Get Rid of Wax Moths?
If wax moths have invaded your hive, you are likely wondering what you should do to remove them. Wax moths are an important part of the ecosystem, but they aren’t something you want in your hive.
Getting rid of wax moths is time-consuming, but necessary. They can lay eggs in small crevices in the frames, and they may even burrow into the frame itself.
If there are only a few wax moths and no major damage, you can freeze the frames and allow the bees to eat the honey. If there’s a severe infestation, it’s best to clean the frames instead.
The first step to removing them is to remove all of the visible signs of wax moths.
This includes faeces, webbing, larva, and eggs. A hive tool is needed to scrape away the wax moth leavings.
Inspect the frames for damage. If the frame appears compromised, throw it away or burn it.
Next, you’ll want to clean them with water and bleach, which should kill any remaining eggs or larva. Last, freeze the frames for at least two days to be sure there are no eggs or larva remaining.
If the infestation is severe, you may need to disassemble the hive box. If there are any eggs or larva left, the infestation will continue.
Preventing Wax Moths
Of course, prevention is always the best method of dealing with a pest problem. There’s a lot of work involved in clearing an infestation, so it’s much better to avoid it entirely.
One way to prevent wax moth invasion is to keep your colony strong. Wax moths typically only thrive in weak bee colonies. In strong colonies, the bees will eradicate the moth before it can lay its eggs and start the life cycle within the hive.
In addition to ensuring your colony is healthy, it should also be big enough to fend off an attack. Small colonies are at a much higher risk of wax moth invasion than large colonies.
Mother nature provides. Instead of turning to chemicals, many beekeepers prefer to use natural methods for repelling wax moths. After all, if they won’t go near the hive, they can’t invade it.
Plants that repel wax moths include:
Of course, there is one issue with this method. If the bees gather pollen from these plants, then it can flavor the honey. These wax moth repellents have a strong smell as well as a strong taste, so you’ll need to keep this in mind when selecting your plants.
Some, like geranium and lemongrass, have the potential to add a tasty note to your honey. However, camphor and eucalyptus might not be appreciated flavors.
DIY Wax Moth Trap
In addition to repelling the moths, you can use a DIY trap as a decoy for your hive. Instead of getting into the hive, the moths will go into the trap.
To make the trap, you’ll need a 1 liter soda bottle, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, and ½ a cup of vinegar. You’ll also need a banana peel.
Add the sugar, water, and vinegar together in the bottle. Then, add the banana peel to the bottle in small strips or pieces. Replace the lid, and shake well. Allow the mixture to sit for a few days. This allows it to ferment.
When you are ready to use the trap, drill a 1-inch hole near the top of the bottle. Hang the trap near your hive. When the moths smell the mixture, they should be attracted to it, instead of the hive. They will go into the bottle and become trapped.
Final Thoughts on Wax Moths in Honey
Really, eating honey that has wax moths comes down to personal preference. Are you comfortable with consuming it, or does it give you the shivers to think about it?
How many wax moths are present will make a difference as well. Wax moths can completely ruin honey with their webbing. However, when there are only a few wax moths present, eating the honey is likely ok as long as you take the proper precautions.