An early bee fly

On Tuesday this week I saw my first bee fly (Bombylius major) of the year. This seems quite an early record – all my previous records have been in mid April and May. The Natural History Museum suggest that bee flies emerge when the temperature is above 17 degrees so I guess on Tuesday in my sheltered garden a sun spot was created and bingo.

Finch bee fly 1
A bee fly photographed at Finch Foundry last year

Finch bee fly 2A close up

So, it is a fly that mimics a bumblebee – you can often find them in sunny spots feeding on primroses. The females after mating flick their eggs at the entrance of solitary bee nests (i.e. holes in the ground). The eggs then hatch as maggots which then enter the bee’s nest and predate the bee’s own larvae before emerging as adults the following year.

Andrena bicolor
This is a solitary bee of the genus Andrena which are parasitised by bee flies

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