Braulidae, or bee lice, is a Diptera family that contains eight species in two genera, Braula and Megabraula. These are very unusual flies, wingless and flattened, and barely recognizable as Diptera.Two species of Braula are associated with bees. Adults are degenerate in form as a result of their mode of life and lack wings and halteres. The head is large, with vestigial eyes, the scutellum absent, and the thorax not sharply differentiated from the abdomen (Clausen 1940/62). Braula caeca Nitz, or "bee louse" is a commensal found on honeybees and in their hives in different parts of the world. This species originally was considered to be parasitic on adult bees themselves, but Skaife (1921c) and Herrod-Hempsall (1931) showed that the apterous adults feed only on honey regurgitated by the bee. Worker bees and the queen are frequently very heavily infested, while very few of this species are found on drones. A maximum of 26 individuals were found on a single queen. They usually are attached at the juncture of the thorax and abdomen or at the neck. When feeding, they move to the head of the bee and, by taking up a position on the mandibles, either force or induce the bee to extrude its tongue, and they then feed on the honey. They will not feed on honey contained in the comb, and very little harm seems to result from this association.
Eggs are laid at random over the brood comb or in the cells filled with honey. Skaife (1921c) found that young Braula crawl into the cells with the bee larvae and consume a portion of the food provided for the. The larva forms a tunnel for itself from fragments of the cell wall, and pupates within it. The life cycle takes ca. 3 weeks.
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