What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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The family Braulidae contains only a single species, Braula coeca , the bee louse, introduced to Australia through the apiarist trade.

Braula coeca is an external parasite of adult honeybees within their hives. The adult lice are small and attach themselves to the queen or workers, settling on the dorsal surface at the junction of the bee's thorax and abdomen. They remain there until a hunger response causes them to crawl up to the bee's head near its mouthparts. This movement seems to irritate the bee, causing it to regurgitate a drop of nectar. Braula then inserts its mouthparts into those of its benefactor and takes its food. Bees actively try to remove the 'lice'.

The bee louse lays its eggs on the capping of honey storage cells during May through July. After oviposition, the adults die. Upon hatching, the young larvae burrow into the cappings. The diet of the larva appears to be wax and perhaps pollen grains incorporated into the wax by worker bees.
In small numbers the bee louse is insignificant; if many are present, however, they can be a serious pest to bees and beekeepers.


Braula coeca is 1.5-1.7mm long and is rust-brown in colour, and lacks wings, halters, and scutellum. Head with eyes minute, ocelli absent. Claws modified and comb-like. Thorax and abdomen covered with stiff setae.


No Information available on distribution.

  • Braulidae

  • Bee Louse ( Braulidae) on a European Honey Bee ( Apis mellifera )