Identify It > Fly Section > Bee-flies >
Scientific name: Bombylius major
Size: Up to 18mm long. Wingspan 25mm
Distribution: Found throughout the U.K. More common in southern England
Months seen: April to June
Habitat: Gardens, parks and woodland rides
Food: Nectar. Larvae feed on honey and the the larvae of bees
Special features: Bee-flies look more like a bee than a fly - hence the name. They're sometimes called the 'Dark-edged Bee-fly', or the 'Large Bee-fly'. Like a bumble bee they are covered in hair. Bee-flies have a long proboscis for drinking nectar from deep flowers. When at rest (which is rare) you notice the wings have dark markings along the leading edges.
Bee-flies are expert flyers, and make a high pitched buzzing sound while they hover around flowers, with their long, stilt-like legs dangling below them.
There are more than a dozen species of bee-fly in Britain. They're one of the first insects on the wing each spring and frequently seen on primroses and bugle in April and May.