bee moth, greater wax moth, or honeycomb moth, common name for an insect pest of honeycombs. Bee moths do damage during their larval stages, injuring combs and honey. The moth Galleria mellonella belongs to the subfamily Galleriinae of the family Pyralidae, in which the females characteristically lay their eggs in beehives. The adult moths have brownish front wings with wing-spans of about 1 in. (2.5 cm). Eggs are laid in masses in the crevices of the hive. The newly hatched larvae tunnel into the combs, leaving a complex of silken galleries behind; they also puncture the wax caps of honey cells causing honey leakage and making the punctured comb honey unmarketable. Normally, the moths attack only abandoned beehives, or active ones in which the bee colony has been weakened, e.g., as a result of disease or starvation. Another well-known but smaller member of the subfamily is the lesser wax moth, Achroia grisella, which has the same type of scavenging habits as the greater wax moth. Bee moths are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Lepidoptera, family Pyralidae, subfamily Galleriidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.