Mites on bee cocoons
There were huge differences in the mite numbers on my red mason bee cocoons and Osmia leaiana bee cocoons, all taken from my new solitary bee nest box. There were 1000’s on the red mason bee cocoons, with their pinkish plates and colourings (Chaetodactylus osmiae ?) which were mobile and crawling over the cocoons and more mites in an immobile state which were pearly white and inside the individual bee cells. The mobile mites are the ones that hitch a lift (phoretic mites) as the red mason bees leave the nest after chewing their way out of the cocoons. The other non mobiles stay were they are and await the arrival of new females that wish to use the cells and use the pollen for their own usage. Mites feed upon the pollen stored by solitary bees for their own larvae. Many bees starve to death, are smaller due to lack of food or the bee eggs may even be eaten by the mites….The mites on O. leaiana bee cocoons were substantially fewer in numbers, perhaps only half a dozen, in the whole nest box, compared to thousands on the red mason cells. Probably because the red masons are earlier in the year than the O. leaianas. I did not see one Chaetodactylus osmiae at all in the O. leaiana cells or on the cocoons themselves. They were much faster on their feet with different appendages and colourings… perhaps a different species of pollen mite?
Now possibly identified…
From enquiries made to a professional ecologist and mite expert, (Professor!). After viewing the video, he has stated that- ” The mite on the Megachile cell looks like a species of Glycyphagus. G. domesticus is found in a variety of situations so could be the one. These mites are fungivores and detritivores so shouldn’t cause problems. Mites of the genus Vidia are specific associates of leaf-cutter bees. You often see the phoretic form on adult bees, but the other stages are only known for one species. They were found feeding on fungi between the leaf pieces lining the cells”.
Looking at videos and photographs, he mite (!) be right! A house mite.
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When I get a little more time I will write an article about the ecology of these mites on the cells and about more of my observations of them.