Out of nearly 200 species of Tarsonemus, five species have been recorded in association with bees: Tarsonemus apis, T. blakemorei, T. fusarii, T. minimax, T. platynopodae, and T. xylocopae.
Among them, Tarsonemus fusarii is a widespread generalist primarily inhabiting stored grain. T. minimax is associated with bark beetles (so the records from bees may be accidental or the species was misidentified). Similarly, T. blakemorei was originally found in nests of birds but then was recorded from various bees in India: Apis mellifera, Apis cerana, and Melipona sp. (Sumangala and Haq, 2001).
Three other species have been found exclusively on bees and/or their nests, indicating close associations: Tarsonemus apis (Apis mellifera), T. platynopodae (Xylocopa latipes, Malaysia), and T. xylocopae (Xylocopa frontalis). Tarsonemus apis has been collected from Apis mellifera (Europe) and other species of Apis in Singapore, both on adult bees and in stored pollen.
Mites of the genus Tarsonemus are common in a great variety of habitats including soil, litter, ground-level and subterranean nests of vertebrate and invertebrate animals, decaying wood, bracket fungi, subcortical habitats where they are associated with insects, stored grain and food products, laboratory cultures, house dust of man-made habitats, and on all sorts of woody and herbaceous plants including conifers, monocotyledonous plants, and especially dicotyledonous plants, both deciduous and evergreen.
Mites of this genus are primarily fungivores. A few species are economically important pests in commercial mushroom cultures and fungal cultures in research laboratories. Species of Tarsonemus sometimes carry fungal spores, mostly in the membranous lateral areas underneath the tergite. For example, Tarsonemus ips may play a role in its beetle host's (southern pine beetle) transmission of the bluestain fungus, Ceratocystis minor, to coniferous trees. Some species may be transitionally phytophagous, attacking plants of agricultural importance, such as crops and ornamentals. One species, T. dispar, associated with passalid beetles, feeds on living animal exudates or products. Other species of Tarsonemus appear to be beneficially important in their association with fungi in the decomposition of soil litter (reviewed in Lindquist, 1985).