At the Summer Meeting we had a very informative presentation that demonstrated that mites are not riding around on the backs of bees sucking their blood like some 19th century vampire. They are, instead firmly lodged between the plates on the underside of the bees abdomen with their claws hooked in and their mouth parts embedded in the bees body more like the face hugger from the movie "Alien".. As I pondered this while driving home I thought of all the books that are now inaccurate. More importantly I wondered about the whole screen bottom board/sticky board thing. It doesn't seem likely that many mites "fall off" bees when they are hooked in the way we saw with the electron microscope slides. I wonder seriously how many mites would "slip off" when the bee is dusted in powdered sugar. I imagine that the deadly alcohol wash is really the only way to get a reasonably accurate count because both the bees and mites are dead and even then I would imagine you would have to do a lot of vigorous shaking to loosen that dead mite with claws and mouth parts embedded in the bee body. In short - I wonder if this new discovery has overturned a lot of conventional wisdom. It could be that our traditional methods of counting mites grossly underestimates how many mites may be living on our bees. Perhaps we have only been counting the phoretic mites that happened to get caught outside between meals?