Friday, April 11, 2008
Major bee-fly, a.k.a. Greater bee-fly, Bombylius major.
Bee flies are what they sound like: flies that resemble bees. This one is the one we see most here, though there are several similar species in the family Bombyliidae.
See photos of several of them at Giff Beaton's site. (You know there are a lot of members in the family when there's a World Catalog of them.)
They hover about like small cute bumblebees, and they don't seem to mind drawing attention to themselves, the way they'll hover in the same position for quite a while. I've also seen them dart back and forth between two positions a foot or so apart -- if it were a bird, you'd say it was a mating dance, though I would assume that flies don't do that.
According to this site, "Its larvae are brood parasites and are found in bees' nests. Adults feed on nectar, using their long proboscises whilst hovering beside a flower." The whilst there should give you a clue that this fly is also found in England.
BugGuide has a species account here with more details, and some nice shots of them hovering.
I haven't found any one article detailing information about this bee-fly, but there are lots of links highlighting certain aspects of their behavior:
Drawing up sand or sawdust to coat eggs (here).
Comparing them, as generalist pollinators, to more species-specific pollinators (here).
Wingbeats in B flat? (here)
Friday Ark is here.