Here’s one of my favorite bee mimics–the bee fly, Family Bombyliidae

These little balls of fuzz are amazing flyers, able to hover at will.  They typically don’t land on a flower while feeding, but hang in mid-air, having a snack.  This may protect them from being snatched by waiting predators.

The other odd feature of this group is the long proboscis they use to lap up nectar.  It sticks out in front in a way that bee tongues…well, don’t.  It makes them easy to spot in a flower patch.

This group also has the two characteristics we discussed before as identifying flies, not bees: only 2 wings, and short antennae with a bristle.

Bee flies have a dark side to all that fluff: their larvae are usually parasitoids of bees and wasps. Parasitoids are insects that live inside another living host, eating it from the inside out, rather like in the movie Alien.  As Ripley found out, having a parasitoid means you will come to a spectacularly bad end.  It’s not something the host insect survives.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this Not-A-Bee post.  Thanks so much SimonL for the use of your fly!

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Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Your not a bee posts are great. Keep them coming.

  2. You know, I saw one of those on a path near my dorm at college and never knew what it was. Too weird to be a bee to small to be hummingbird… Thanks!

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