Sharing the Nectar--But Not All at the Same Time

Oct 13, 2016

Everybody eats in the pollinator garden.

Maybe not at the same time, but they all eat.

We noticed a syrphid fly, aka flower fly/hover fly, heading toward a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) in our pollinator garden. Alas for the fly, it was occupied. Occupied by a honey bee (Apis mellifera).

No worries.

The honey bee soon buzzed off, and the syrphid claimed it.

The honey bee returned and took a turn.

Then another fly, a drone fly (Eristallis tenax), claimed it.

Interesting that all three are sometimes called "bees," much to the chagrin of entomologists and other scientists. It just goes to prove that not all floral visitors are flies.

  • Honey bee: Order, Hymenoptera; Family Apidae
  • Syrphid fly: Order, Diptera; Family Syrphidae
  • Drone fly: Order, Diptera; Family Syrphidae

But they do have several things in common: (1) they're insects (2) they're pollinators (3) they're hungry and (4) they like nectar just as much as humans like sugar, especially on Halloween. And doesn't orange symbolize Halloween?