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Even Bumblebees get mites

 
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Solarpat
Foraging Bee


Joined: 03 Dec 2010
Posts: 220
Location: Bandon, OREGON, USA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:18 am    Post subject: Even Bumblebees get mites Reply with quote

We've seen this bumblebee for two days now, visiting the mid winter honey pan. We noticed about 20 to 25 mites on her back. My wife wants to try to remove them, but I don't have a clue.
I shot some video. The focus works in and out as I was only about an inch away.
http://solarbeez.com/2014/02/13/even-bumblebees-get-mites-lots-of-them/

Is there any chance they are not biting the bee but only hitching a ride?
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there a chance that Bumblebees and their mites have co-adapted? Is there a chance that these mites simply make sure to wipe out the weak Bumblebees?
Is there a chance that Neonics have damaged this bees nervous system so it stopped grooming itself?

Sorry just having a morning coffee Smile
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last year I found a bumble bee in my horses water trough that was also covered in mites like this. I fished it out, tried to dislodge some of the mites with a piece of dried grass and put it on a wall in the sun to dry. I came back 15 mins later and found it in the water trough again. I came to the conclusion that it was trying to dislodge the mites by drowning them. The other options were that it was dehydrated as a result of the mite infestation or it was going for a marginally quicker death by drowning than being eaten alive!

It's certainly not a pleasant sight to see a bumbler with this level of mite infestation.
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1487
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some of the mites carried by bumblebees clear up detritus in the nest and don't actually harm the bumblebees at all.
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Broadwell
Foraging Bee


Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 122
Location: UK, Kent, High Weald

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/faqs/bumblebee-mites/


(From the link above)

Most bumblebee mites are harmless...

Most bumblebees have many tiny mites clinging to their bodies. In most cases the mites are difficult to see, but sometimes they can cover large parts of the bumblebee’s body.

The good news is that most of the mite species that live with bumblebees are fairly harmless to them and are simply clinging to the bumblebee so that they can be transported to new nests. When in the nest, the mites usually feed upon the wax, pollen, nest debris, and other small insects, so do not feed on the bees. Then, when they reach a certain stage in their life cycle, the mites cling to worker bees, and are transported onto flowers. From these flowers, the mites then attach to other visiting bees, and are transported to new nests.

However, the mites may present a problem if an individual bumblebee becomes so heavily infested that it is unable to fly because of the weight of the mites. If this happens, you can try to remove some of the mites by gently brushing them with a child’s paintbrush.

Others, however...

Some mite species can be more harmful however. For example, one species, Locustacarus buchneri, lives in the tracheal system of queen bumblebees. This species then lays up to 50 eggs in the respiratory system of the bee, and the young develop inside the queen’s body. It is not known if infections like these definitely do harm the bees though.
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Solarpat
Foraging Bee


Joined: 03 Dec 2010
Posts: 220
Location: Bandon, OREGON, USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I put the honey pan back outside in a 5 gallon bucket to protect it from the rain. If I see that bumblebee again, I'll see if I can roll some mites off with a Q-tip. Now if I just had one of those macro lenses like Bernhard Zaunreiter. Smile
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Solarpat
Foraging Bee


Joined: 03 Dec 2010
Posts: 220
Location: Bandon, OREGON, USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
Last year I found a bumble bee in my horses water trough that was also covered in mites like this. I fished it out, tried to dislodge some of the mites with a piece of dried grass and put it on a wall in the sun to dry. I came back 15 mins later and found it in the water trough again. I came to the conclusion that it was trying to dislodge the mites by drowning them. The other options were that it was dehydrated as a result of the mite infestation or it was going for a marginally quicker death by drowning than being eaten alive!

It's certainly not a pleasant sight to see a bumbler with this level of mite infestation.

Someone left a comment on my post that those 'mites' might be 'louses.' I aim to get a better shot possibly with the aid of a microscope to document it better. I hate the thought of a bee trying to drown herself to escape the mites.
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Solarpat
Foraging Bee


Joined: 03 Dec 2010
Posts: 220
Location: Bandon, OREGON, USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Broadwell wrote:
http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/faqs/bumblebee-mites/


That's a great bumblebee site. I looked through all the photos, but I didn't see mine. It's possible, I guess, that b. Melanopygus is more of a western variety.
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