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).