Large Bee-fly

Bombylius major


The Large Bee-fly is a bee mimic, and like the bumble bee has a hairy body with long hairy legs. Its characteristically long slender proboscis is used to retrieve nectar from deep flowers whilst hovering in flight. The Large Bee-fly lays its eggs near the entrance of underground nests of solitary bees and wasps, which after hatching, the larvae find their way into the nests to feed on the grubs.

How to identify

The Large Bee-fly is 10mm in length and is an expert flyer. It makes a high-pitched hum in flight while their long, stilt-like legs dangle below them. When at rest, dark markings along the wings edges can be noticed. Their bodies are stout and furry, with the top of the thorax being black and shiny and the pile either brown, yellow, or white.

Where to find it

There are more than a dozen species of bee-fly in Britain. The Large Bee-fly takes flight in April and May and is one of the first insects on the wing, frequently seen feeding on bugle and primroses.


When to find it

  • April
  • May

How can people help

Many of our commonly 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, to stockwatching to surveying.

Species information

Common name
Large Bee-fly
Latin name
Bombylius major
Length: 10 mm Winngspan: Approx 24 mm