Tips for using the bee mite key


This Lucid identification key can simplify and expedite identification, allowing you to select diagnostic characters and generate a list of species that possess those features. Consult 'Help' from the Lucid interactive key menu at any time.

Choosing characters and states

  • Select the characters (called "features" in Lucid) that are most obvious or the most simple to interpret. Although features are listed in a certain manner, you may choose them in the order you wish. We recommend, if you know the genus name of the bee your mite was found on or associated with, choose states from the Host features; this can often significantly reduce the possible mites in Entities Remaining.
  • The first features you will see in this key are intended to be simple and clearly recognizable. Once you've chosen several features to narrow down the list of Entities Remaining, more complex or difficult (for a non-expert) features could be encountered.
  • It's OK to skip a feature if your specimen does not show it—it's better than guessing! The same is true if you do not understand a feature or its various states. State illustrations and the glossary may help you interpret characters. If you continue to find it difficult to interpret features or find features unhelpful after initially selecting easy characters, we recommend perusing the images or fact sheets of the taxa in Entities Remaining, paying special attention to arrows, which point to diagnostic features.
  • Lucid allows you to choose multiple states of a feature. For example, if some specimens are found on an adult bee and others in the bee nest, then you would select both adult bee and bee nest states.
  • Try clicking on the "Prune Redundants" button after you've chosen a number of states; it will "clean up" the list of features by removing any redundant features.
  • This key is structured so that not all features are displayed at the beginning; you may see features appear after you choose states and certain entities remain.
  • Many of the features in the key require you to view slide-mounted specimens under a compound microscope. (See Preparation and photography to learn how to slide-mount mites.) Some features, however, such as physograstric female swelled abdomens, can be seen using a dissecting microscope.

Determining if you've found the correct identification

This key was designed to help those unfamiliar with mite taxonomy quickly distinguish mites that are harmful to bees from non-harmful mites. Using relatively easy characters, the key can lead you to a single matching harmful mite; non-harmful mite taxa can only be resolved to sets of 1-10 taxa. Those taxa are primarily harmless nest inhabitants, though they can be further separated, if needed, by experienced acarologists.

After choosing features and states, you may or may not end up with a single result under Entities Remaining. In either case, you can compare your specimen with the key's entity images and with the fact sheets (see icon next to taxon name), which contain and illustrate all diagnostic characters, allowing for complete identification. We suggest that you confirm identifications, if possible, with a mite expert.

For more tips on navigating and using Lucid keys, see Best Practices.

Learn more about mites

Browsing fact sheets and the gallery is a good way to familiarize yourself with mite genera. You can browse fact sheets alphabetically (use the "previous" or "next" buttons), or you can use the search function to browse a subset of genera (e.g., "Astigmata"). Find mites associated with a particular bee by choosing the bee and where you found it in the key's "Host" features or review the quick reference guides if you found a mite on one of the seven most common pollinating bees. To learn about mites in general, consult the mite morphology and life stages pages.