Beefly on target

I noticed this Greater Bee Fly (Bombylius major) hovering and darting about in the garden this week, it kept returning to the same spot after chasing off intruders to its airspace. I had my bird lens on so had a go at a few action shots…

This is my favourite one because it looks like the air narwhal is attempting to hit the bullseye with that impressive proboscis :dart:

If you love solitary bees, you might not like the idea of kleptoparasites but for me, a healthy population of solitary bees should attract parasites - it’s nature’s way of maintaining balance :yin_yang:

Here’s a video I shot of the less common Dotted Bee Fly (Bombylius discolor) when I was based in the Cotswolds:

Female Bee Flies are fascinating to watch, they hover over the nest holes of mining bees and flick their eggs into the entrance from a great distance. If you’re really observant, you might notice them collecting sand via their backend! The jury is out on why they do this but a couple of the most plausible theories are that they are collecting sand to use as weights to assist with the egg flicking or that they are using sand to help keep the eggs separate or to stop them drying out in some way. I actually managed to shakily film a different species of Bee Fly, the even less common Downland Villa Bee Fly (Villa cingulata), doing this a few years ago in Stroud Cemetery:

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Great piece this. yes we have Dark-edged Bee Flies here and I’ve witnessed them flicking their eggs into the holes of several solitary mining bees that we have, specifically the Grey or Ashy Mining Bee, Buffish Mining Bee and the Green Furrowed Mining Bee nests. Fascinating stuff! I know we have rare pollinators here like the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly so I’ll keep my eyes open for your rarer Dotted Bee Fly! Great video btw! <3

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Ahh yes, I have seen/photographed Hornet Mimic Hoverflies around the Cotswolds. They were often seen in the wildflower area around Ecotricity HQ in Stroud.

Incidentally, just a few months after spotting the Downland Villa Bee Fly in Stroud and getting all excited about it, I actually found it while out walking our dog around North Cerney and then in my garden a few months later… it is a mysterious species and nobody knows why it disappeared or why it came back! It seems to be something to do with Minch Common or Daneway Banks in this area. Their host species is unknown still but is thought to be a species of moth, so perhaps ‘we’ got the habitat right for the host species?

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