Dark-edged Bee-fly

Dark-edged Bee-fly ©Chris Lawrence

Dark-edged bee-fly

Scientific name: Bombylius major
Our largest and most common bee-fly, the Dark-edged Bee-fly looks just like a bumble bee, and buzzes like one too! It feeds on flowers like primroses and violets in gardens, parks and woodlands.

Species information

Statistics

Length: up to 1.8cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

April to May

About

The Dark-edged bee-fly, or 'Large bee-fly', looks rather like a bumble bee, with a long, straight proboscis that it uses to feed on nectar from spring flowers, such as primroses and violets. It is on the wing in the early spring, when it can often be seen in sunny patches. In flight, it is even more like a bee as it produces a high-pitched buzz. This species of bee-fly is common, but the Heath and Mottled bee-flies are much rarer.

How to identify

Looking like a bee, the Dark-edged Bee-fly has yellowy-brown hair on its body, long, spindly legs, and a long proboscis. The wings have dark markings along their leading edges, hence it's common name. There are several species of bee-fly in the UK, which can be very difficult to tell apart; the Dark-edged Bee-fly has a dark edge, while others have plainer, translucent wings.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

The larvae of the Dark-edged Bee-fly are nest parasites of ground-nesting and solitary bees, feeding on the bee grubs. The female bee-fly flicks her eggs towards the entrance holes of solitary bee nests to allow the larvae to hatch in the right place.

How people can help

Many of our often-overlooked insects are important pollinators for all kinds of plants, including those which we rely on like fruit trees. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species throughout the food chain, so look after many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from coppicing to craft-making, stockwatching to surveying.