Belongs to: flies

Compare with: common carder bee

Bee fly Bombylius major


Best time to see: late Mar to end Apr

Key facts

A hairy fly that looks like a bee, with a long proboscis that it uses to feed on nectar

The most common of several species found throughout the UK, but scarcer in the north

Usually seen in early spring taking nectar from flowers such as primroses and violets

Recognition

Squat, hairy body, russet-coloured, with very long tongue; clear wings with dark band on the leading edge

Fast, darting and hovering flight

Up to 18mm long; wingspan 25mm

Lifecycle

The adult female flicks eggs into the nests of solitary bees in the genus Andrena

On hatching they parasitise the larvae of the host bee, emerging as adults in spring

  • Main photo
  • mating

Photo © Tony Gunton

Photo © Pat Allen