Melittiphis

 

HARMFUL | NOT HARMFUL | UNCERTAIN

neutral; feeds on spillover or discarded pollen in hive floorboards

Name and classification

Melittiphis Berlese, 1918

Taxonomy
Superorder Parasitiformes » Order Mesostigmata » Suborder Monogynaspida » Hyporder Dermanyssiae » Family Laelapidae » Genus Melittiphis

Type species
Laelaps (Iphis) alvearius Berlese, 1895

Common synonyms
Melittiphis is commonly misspelled as "Mellitiphis."

Common names
pollen mite

Diagnosis

Female and Male. Presternal region in the female with a keel-like ridge (Figs. 2, 3). Anal shield of female and ventro-anal shield of male with a posteriorly directed spur anterior to the anus (Figs. 2, 5). Anal shield of female is almost straight posteriorly, with two very small triangular processes at sides (Figs. 2, 5). Metasternal shields enlarged (Fig. 3). Peritrematic shields extended posterior to stigmatic opening (Fig. 4). Dorsal idiosoma (especially at edges) and ventral opisthosoma hypertrichous (Figs. 1, 2).

Species identification

This genus has only one species, Melittiphis alvearius (Berlese, 1895).

Distribution

The single species, Melittiphis alvearius, is a globally distributed species in managed colonies of the European honey bee worldwide. Records include Europe, USA, Russia, Canada, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, and South America.

Bee hosts

European honey bee, Apis mellifera

Host association level

Permanent

associated exclusively with bees or their close relative, wasps; cannot live without these hosts

Temporary

some life stages are associated with bees, while others are not

Facultative or opportunistic

can complete entire life cycle without bees or their close relative, wasps

permanent

Host associations, feeding, and dispersal

  • All stages live in nests of bees, where they feed on discarded or spillover pollen.
  • Adult mites (mostly females) disperse on adult bees.

Biology

This genus is pollenophagous (pollen-feeding) in bee hives as shown by laboratory observations and immuno-dot blot technique (Gibbins and Vantoor, 1990). It has been reported from debris from hive floorboards (Samšiňák et al., 1978; Delfinado-Baker, 1994) and called a harmless, pollenophagous commensal (Delfinado-Baker, 1994). Given these data, it seems that Melittiphis alvearius mostly feeds on spillover pollen or pollen discarded by bees and cannot compete with the developing bee larvae inside sealed brood cells (i.e., it is not kleptoparasitic). The mites are not attracted to bee brood or eggs (Gibbins and Vantoor, 1990).

Melittiphis alvearius is a relatively rare species in bee hives in many countries. In a large survey conducted in middle Europe, it was found in 5.5% of samples (Samšiňák et al., 1978). There are records from the USA and Canada, but here also, the mite was rarely found. In contrast, M. alvearius is widespread in beehives in New Zealand (Gibbins and Vantoor, 1990).

Adults (usually females) are phoretic on worker bees (Delfinado-Baker, 1994).