Greater (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae, Galleria mellonella) and Lesser (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae, Achroia grisella) wax moths are ubiquitous pests of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies globally. The larvae of both moths are pests of honey bee colony wax combs, especially in stressed colonies, and can cause significant damage to stored beekeeping equipment. The economic importance of wax moths has led to a number of investigations on wax moth life history, biology, behaviour, ecology, molecular biology, physiology, and control.
Despite the importance of wax moths to the apicultural industry, they are investigated considerably more as a model organism for studies in insect physiology, genomics, proteomics, etc. This is especially true for greater wax moths. Consequently, there are thousands of literature references on wax moths and, correspondingly, possibly hundreds of research techniques associated with the insect. Those studying wax moths from an apicultural perspective typically use only a small number of the total available research methods outlined in the literature.
Herein, we describe research methods commonly used by people investigating wax moths from an apicultural perspective. It is important to note that developing a compendium of all methods related to wax moth research is beyond the scope and purpose of this paper. There simply are too many methods and manuscripts to include in such a reference. Indeed, research methods related to wax moths could be outlined in an entire book dedicated to the subject. Instead, we describe methods we feel are important from an apicultural research perspective. We hope that this paper will revitalize research on wax moths, since they remain both an important honey bee colony pest and an interesting colony symbiont.