I redirected my thoughts to correct her how moths don't really kill a colony of honey bees. Moths are opportunists and basically act as the undertaker. Moths finish off an otherwise weakened colony that was ...wait. Mothballs? What? Now I was the confused person in this conversation.
So I asked, "You mean the PDB approved moth crystals for storing drawn comb?"
"No," she replied, "you know, moth balls."
"Surely you don't mean the ones made from naptha?" I inquired.
"I dunno, you know, moth balls," she said as if there was only one kind of moth deterrent.
This was so strange, so counter-intuitive, so off the wall, it reminded me of the beekeepers who would place a Luden's or Hall's cough drop in the hole of the inner cover because it contained menthol and had "vapor action."
Now before you get all excited and make a run for Walgreen's or Dollar General, that idea of menthol cough drops has been totally debunked...and DO NOT tell anyone I it was my suggestion or you heard it from me!
Okay, back to the moth balls. Our conversation wove in and out of confusion and incredulity. Finally I asked, "Where did you hear such information?"
"From the Kelley Beekeeping Company," she said with a note of defiance and confidence. Then added, "Why didn't someone tell me they would have saved my bee hive from the wax moths?"
Not only did I have a hard time swallowing the application of moth balls, but a respected and intelligent company with decades of experience...something was just not adding up. So I went straight to the horse's mouth.
Here is the official response from Ashley Constant, Commercial/Dealer SR of the Kelley Beekeeping Company, verbatim:
"We do suggest that you use the standard house hold moth balls. It is not to kill the moth's that has attacked her hive but to help keep them away. They should not be placed underneath of the hive but out to the side about 2 feet on each side. We do not state that it kills or totally prevents the moths from attacking the hive and or killing a weak colony. The smell that it give of does indeed help prevent the moths from coming in the general area. We have had much success with this and it does not bother the hive of bees as long as it is far enough away from the hive."
With all due respect, I'm from Missouri on this technique. My mother used to place moth balls in her flower beds to keep the squirrels and rabbits out, but I'm afraid this is just not sitting with me when it comes to my apiary, in part, because squirrels and rabbits do not pose any threat to my bees.
Am I just an obstinate old fool who refuses to get with the program?