Quick reference guides


These bee quick reference guides are organized so you can quickly see which mites are found on the seven bees most commonly used for pollination worldwide, including honey bees and bumble bees. For quick comparison, the seven guides show all the mite genera (of those included in this tool) associated with each bee. Photos in the guides show mites on the bees themselves, as well as slide-mounted at higher magnification. You can click on each mite's name to view its fact sheet.

The guides are high resolution pdfs, so you can zoom in to see mite details. You may find the guides look better in Adobe Reader or Acrobat rather than in your browser.

Using the guides

  • Except for the stingless bees (Meliponini), the quick reference guides show only mites found on adult bees rather than in bee nests. This is because many generalist mites can enter a bee's nest, and they all tend to look alike, so the quick reference guide format is not suitable for identifying them. In contrast, nests of stingless bees harbor many mites that do not occur anywhere else and mites are rarely phoretic on stingless bees.
  • Unless two slide-mounted photos of one mite are shown, the slide-mounted photos usually show mites in ventral view, where many diagnostic characters can be seen.
  • Refer to the slide-mounted mite photos for each guide's set of mites associated with a bee; we were not always able to provide the complete corresponding set of low magnification photos of mites on a bee (or in a nest) in the guides.
  • The terms "rarely found" and "rare on host" are defined in the quick reference guides with respect to the other mites in this tool. "Rarely found" indicates that a mite is rarely found on that bee or in its nest, and "rare on host" indicates that though rarely seen on the bee host because phoresy on adult bees is infrequent, it may be found in the bee's nest.
  • For the most part, both the low and high magnification photos in the guides show mites at approximately the same size, because in fact most of the mites in this tool are about 0.15 to 1.1 mm long. For those mites that are significantly smaller or significantly larger, magnification signs next to the mite indicate by how much the images have been enlarged (e.g., "2x") or reduced (e.g., "0.6x"), respectively, in order for them to roughly match the image sizes of other mites on that page in the guide. Mites that have no magnification sign are all approximately to scale.

Identification tips

  • For the guides that are two or more pages, be sure to compare your specimen to the mites in all its pages.
  • These are "quick reference" guides; many of the slide-mounted mites can be distinguished simply by their overall body shape. Other characters you may see include: the shapes and lengths of legs I and IV; whether legs I and IV bear very long setae; the shapes of shields; and sometimes striking differences in the form and density of setae on mites' bodies.
  • It is possible to discern color and shape and other conspicuous characters, such as long setae, on non slide-mounted mite specimens, though you will need a powerful dissecting microscope to see them. Notice that color usually fades in slide-mounted mites; for example, Leptus is distinctly red when alive.
  • Overwintering bumble bee queens carry larger loads of mites as compared to workers and males. In many, but not all bee species, mites prefer female bees, which is the sex that builds nests.
  • To get a list of mites found in a particular bee's nest and access their fact sheets, open the key. Then choose a host from the key's first feature and choose "nest." The Entities remaining will be only those found in that bee's nest!
  • Beyond the easier identification methods in these guides, consult fact sheets for diagnostic characters that can be seen in slide-mounted mites.