Bees and STDs

May 17 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I talked about Varroa Mites yesterday, and I wanted to point out that solitary bees also have parasites that can be deadly.  Osmia, or Mason bees, occur in all shapes and sizes, but nearly all 300 species are fuzzy, mild-mannered, and adorable.  They're called mason bees because they create nest chambers out of mud.  Each individual female does all the work herself, unlike social bumble bees and honey bees.

Sadly, just as lots of things like to kill honey bees, there is also an extensive list of predators, parasitoids, and parasites that specialize on just this one type of bee.

Solitary bees pose a unique challenge for a parasite. How are you supposed to build up a population when your host doesn't live in a group or a herd?  Somehow you have to spread and move between both individuals and generations.

One time when even solitary animals have to hook up is.... when they hook up.  Parasitic mites on bees hop off one host and onto another just like changing taxis. The bees are too otherwise occupied with gettin' it on to notice.

I posted some footage of varroa mites on honeybees yesterday, but that pales in comparison to the horror I'm about to show you.   Indeed, I hope it will shock you, make you quite itchy, and put you off sex for a while.  (I'm not getting any, so might as well make it a universal condition.)

From the video author:

"These Red Mason Bees are heavily (probably fatally) infested with mites. Mites will often move from the male bee (who picks them up whilst visiting flowers), to the female during copulation. The female will then carry them to her nest where they will feed on the provisions and breed. Mites often will suck the blood of bees, sometimes leading to death. Heavily infested bees are unable to fly."

The mites are probably Chaetodactylus, but that's a guess.

You should be ready for Friday Weird Science now.

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