Species of the month

Species of the Month: Dark edged bee fly

Dark edged bee fly © Chris Lawrence

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March Species of the Month: Dark edged bee fly

Scientific Name: Bombylius major

Identification

The Dark-edged Bee-fly looks rather like a bumble bee, with yellowy-brown hair on its body and long, spindly legs. It has a long, straight proboscis that it uses to feed on nectar from spring flowers. The wings have dark markings along their leading edges, hence it's common name. 

Dark edged bee fly © Chris Lawrence

Dark edged bee fly © Chris Lawrence

Diet

The diet of the adult bee fly consists of nectar from within spring flowers. However, the larvae are parasitic and feed on bee grubs when they hatch.

 

Behaviour

It is on the wing in the early spring, when it can often be seen in sunny patches. It balances itself as it feeds on flowers using its front legs, whilst whirring its wings as it hovers. The batting of wings produces a buzzing sound similar to that of a bee.

Did you know?

The female bee-fly flicks her eggs towards the entrance holes of solitary bee nests to allow her larvae to hatch and feed on bee larvae. 

Unlike butterflies, bee flies hold their proboscis straight, and cannot retract it. 

Where can they be found?

The dark-edged bee fly is widespread and can be found in a number of habitats such as grassland, heathland, woodland, towns and gardens, and farmland. Wherever there are flowers, you can find these pollinators. 

You may spot a bee fly at one of our reserves including: 

Townsend Nature Reserve 

Budgens Meadow Nature Reserve 

Kilwood Nature Reserve 

Wildlife gardening tips

Plant spring flowers such as primroses and violets which the bee fly will feed on. 

Plant a nectar rich flower border which will encourage pollinators of all types.

 

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Blue tit © Stewart Canham