Not Bees--They're Flies

Sep 7, 2010

There are "bees" and there are "flies."

And then there are "bee flies."

Bee flies? They're so named because they look somewhat like bees. Order: Diptera. Family: Bombyliidae.

We spotted a single bee fly, as identified by UC Davis forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, foraging on our sedum yesterday. Like a bee, it's a pollinator; the adult bee fly feeds on nectar and pollen. Entomologists estimate there are some 4500 described species of bee flies throughout the world, varying in size from 4 to 40mm.

In the larval stages, they are parasitoids; the adult bee fly lays her eggs in the nests of wasps, beetles or solitary bees. Then the larvae ungraciously thank their hosts by eating them. 

This large bee fly (below) apparently found the nectar to its liking. It lumbered from flower to flower sipping nectar.

The honey bees, hover flies and leafcutter bees all scrambled to avoid a collision.

By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

Attached Images:

A BEE FLY nectars on sedum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bee Fly

LARGE BODY of bee fly shows an equally large wing span. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Large Body

BEE FLY sips nectar from sedum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Sip of Nectar