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Bee flies

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Bee flies

Bee flies (Diptera: Bombyliidae) have a virtually cosmopolitan distribution and are commonly found in warm arid to semi-arid habitats ,where they can form a conspicuous part of the flower-visiting insect fauna.

Bee flies

Bee flies

Bee flies are Medium- to large-sized. Usually stoutbodied and hairy, often resembling bees.Antennae 3-segmented (suborder Brachycera), 3rd segment not annulated.Many species with a long and slender proboscis. Wings distinctive: often patterned or spotted; vein M1 ending behind wing tip; 3 or 4 posterior cells

Adults of larger species are powerful and agile fliers, rivaling hoverflies (Syrphidae) in their ability to hover and move in all directions while in flight. With many species possessing colorful patterns of stripes and spots on the wings and bodies.

Bee flies generally found in the seek heat and are often found flying close to the ground in dry, sandy regions

Bee flies

Bee flies

Bee flies are often some of the most striking in appearance of all the Diptera. Larvae of all reared species of Bombyliidae are parasitoids (most often ectoparasitoids) or predators of other insects, primarily the immature stages of the large endopterygote orders of Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Orthoptera, and Diptera.

Bee flies are well adapted to feeding on the nectar reserves of flowers. They have long beak-like mouthparts and are able to hover perfectly still in front of a flower while they probe for the sweet rewards. Their profuse furriness and general bee-like appearance affords them their name. Like many adult insects, their larval stages are characterized by more sinister activities. Bee fly larvae parasitize ground nesting bees and beetles.

Life Cycle :Bee flies, like the diurnal clearwing moths rarely actually come to rest on a flower while feeding. At most, they dangle their front legs against the bloom, one assumes for balance and stability. This is probably in defense against (usually very well-camouflaged) predators such as crab spiders (family Thomisidae) and ambush bugs (family Phymatidae) that lie in wait at flowers.

Bee flies larva

Bee flies larvae

Eggs are laid near the entrance to the nest of the specific bee host parasitized by that species of bee fly. The tiny larvae enter the nest and usually wait until the bee larva has pupated before metamorphosing from a small, mobile animal to a smooth, fat larva which feeds on the bee pupa. The bee fly pupa is dual-phased. The first pupa is ‘normal’; the second stage has a sharp battering ram with which to break down the nest cell wall, made by the adult bee when closing the cell.

Bee flies are harmless to humans, bearing no sting; so next time you are enjoying a quiet time sitting in the garden, just have a look round and see if you can spot one of these insects.

Many bee flies have boldly patterned wings, but it's their shape that generally tips me off that a specimen is in the Bombyliidae family. The shape is reminiscent of the best swept-wing fighter jets. The relatively short and usually pointed antennae are another clue, along with, of course, that dangerous-looking beak. Good thing these flies don't bite or sting.

Bee flies Eggs

Bee flies Eggs

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