All stages of Tropilaelaps are permanent parasites of honey bee brood. Mites occur in beehives inside capped brood cells, parasitizing the developing bees by piercing their soft integument with chelicerae and feeding on the hemolymph. The foundress mite places three to four eggs on mature bee larvae (drones, workers, and queens) shortly before capping, and the progeny, usually a male (first to eclose) and several females feed only on bee brood. The entire life cycle takes about one week and the adults, including the foundress mite, emerge with the adult bee and search for new hosts. Mite females disperse on adult bees. They are non-feeding during phoresy since they cannot pierce the integument of adult bee with their unspecialized chelicerae. Gravid female mites die within two days unless they deposit their mature eggs (Sammataro et al., 2000).
Tropilaelaps cannot live sustainably in temperate regions because winter prevents honey bees from producing brood continuously, hence starving the mites.