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How and where should I store empty supers?

Over the years I have developed a specific way to store empties, but a lot will depend on how many supers and how much storage space you have. Another issue is pests. Mice and wax moths can be especially hard on stored equipment.

I keep empty bee boxes—with or without drawn comb–in stacks in an enclosed shed. I crisscross the boxes so that each box is at a 90-degree angle to the one below it. This allows the free flow of light and air throughout the stack. I have been told that wax moths do not like light, so a stack with lots of light inside is a good thing. I should mention that my shed (which is really my garden shed) has both windows and skylights. I know this seems like prime real estate for bee boxes, but I don’t use the space much in the winter anyway.

However, it is not a perfect system. Mice don’t seem to mind the light and one year I had mice make nests right in the drawn combs. They made creative use of chicken feathers, wood chips, peat moss, and straw they found in the area, and they munched on the combs that contained honey and pollen. So now I stack the boxes and place mouse traps on all four sides of each column and a few inside the stack on the floor. It’s worked so far.

Beekeepers who must treat their empties for wax moths often stack the supers in line with each other so no light and air can enter. Inside these closed off stacks they place insecticide to kill the wax moths. So again, it depends on your situation. I don’t use pesticides and I’ve managed to keep wax moths at bay by always freezing my honey combs after harvest and by stacking the empties as I’ve described.

The “open stacking” method also inhibits mold growth. One year I stored a few supers that had honey and pollen in them and, in order to keep mice away, I closed up the stack. By spring, the combs smelled moldy and disgusting. Since that time, whenever I have frames with honey or pollen, I give them to an overwintering colony. The bees manage to discourage mice, moths, and mold better than I can, so I let them.

I’ve seen people just stack their supers outside, but around here rain is a problem as well as lots of wildlife—including mammals, birds, and all types of invertebrates (bugs and slugs)—so I keep them inside.




Hi, I have been keeping bees for only two years and I lost my bees this winter. I also was unable to replace them as of yet and decided to just wait until next year. I was able to harvest honey out of a hive body (deep) which I did only two weeks ago. I want to know how to safely store them avoiding wax moths and hive beetle infestations. I do not have an enclosed shed with light. Right now they are sitting , stacked openly, in my garage where currently it is pretty cool. We live in Pennsylvania. There are no pests in there and would like to keep it that way until next April when new bees arrive. I thought about open stacking, bagging and keeping off the ground and deep in my garage. What would you recommend ?



If they’ve been empty of bees for more than a few weeks, they probably have no eggs or larvae right now. The trick is to keep them away from adult moths and beetles. Moths are trickier because they can fly into your garage, but you also don’t want to wrap them too tightly or they may mold. If your garage is pretty tight, you are probably fine to just openly stack. Do check on them occasionally. If you develop a problem, you want to catch it early.


Thank you for your reply. I have a roll of nylon door screening. Would screening the top and bottom be helpful do you think? Or would it encourage mold?



I think screening would work, but still check on them after a couple weeks to be sure they’re dry.


Hi there. I need to save and keep my empty combs and I don’t know how to do it. They need a special treatment? Thanks for your help! 🙂

Best Regards



If the combs had brood in them, they may attract wax moths in storage. As I said in the post, I use this storage method for boxes either with or without comb. You can put something like Paramoth in the stack if wax moths are a problem, but they will have to be completely aired out before you use them again. If they don’t have wax moths so far, just keeping them away from moths should be enough.


Thanks Rusty!

christine haines

Sept. 14, 2015

I removed three frames with drawn comb no eggs, no larvae, but a bit of nectar in some combs. I want to store these for use in the spring. Since there are few to store should I put them in the freezer? (Mice are a bit of a problem.) thanks



You can store them in your freezer if you have room. I would just wrap them in plastic, freeze them overnight, and then store the plastic-wrapped frames somewhere the mice couldn’t get them.

Richard Knight

So is it safe to say – that if you live in a northern climate, that if you leave your supers in the shed and it gets down to -25 or so that it would be a good treatment for Wax Moth?



That depends. If the supers already have eggs, you need to freeze them immediately, otherwise the eggs will hatch and the moths do their damage. But certainly as long as it is freezing in your shed, wax moths will not be a problem.