Bumblebee hitchhikers

Regular readers may remember my post about the first bumblebees and may remember this photo.

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Some of you noticed the bee was carrying some little passengers and we were wondering if they would be detrimental to the bumble. I have since learned that these little mites are called phoretic mites (Parasitellus). The mites are just hitchhikers and will not harm the bee. They are a non-feeding nymph stage of the adult mites. They over-winter on the queen bees. Once the queen establishes a nest the mites drop off. They remain in the nest,  feeding on the nest detritus, a sort of live-in nest cleaner for the bees.

 

 

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