Anthrax Bee Fly I
Anthrax Bee Fly II
Anthrax Bee Fly III
Anthrax Bee Fly IV
Thraxan Bee Fly I
Thraxan Bee Fly II
Thraxan Bee Fly III
Thraxan Bee Fly IV
Thraxan Bee Fly V
Thraxan Bee Fly VI
Villa Bee Fly I
Villa Bee Fly II
Villa Bee Fly III
Villa Bee Fly IV 


Bee Flies - Family Bombyliidae

Order Diptera 

This page contains pictures and information about Bee Flies in family Bombyliidae that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
Bee Flies are from medium to large in size. They are usually stout and hairy. Bee Flies have long proboscis. They feed on nectar and pollen. Bee Flies are strong flier. On a sunny day, they are often seen feeding on flowers, hovering over vegetation or resting on bare ground. They are import pollinators, some even are the primary pollinators of some of flower plant species.
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Bee Fly's wing                                                                                                                                               Long Proboscis
Bee Flies are hairy, most of them mimic wasps or bees (Batesian mimics of Hymenoptera). They have stout and woolly body but they do not have the narrowed waist. Their wings are easily recognized with distinct vein pattern, usually dark in colour, some with patterns or spots. When at rest, their wings are flat in outspread position. Their head is occupied by their large eyes, more or less in hemispherical shape. Their legs are slender and without bristles. Their claws are small.
Bee Flies favours warm and sunny localities. Most have the strong, hovering flight and are usually found hovering on blossom. They are also found patching of bare soil. 
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Bee Fly laying eggs in sandy soil                                  With long proboscis and feed on flowers               Mimic wasp
Bee Fly females lay eggs in sandy soils. Most of their larvae are parasitic on other insects' eggs or larvae. Very few others are predaceous, free living in soil. As you might imagine, their larvae are hard to be found.
Both flies in Bee Flies family and Hover flies (Syrphidae) family mimic bees and wasps. The main character to recognize between them is Bee Flies have longer wings with different vein patterns. Hover Flies have shorter wings with a series of closed cell on the wings hind margins.  

Subfamily Toxophorinae - Slender Bee Flies
Bee Flies in the subfamily usually have the slender body covered with short hairs. They also have long and slender proboscis to feed on flowers. 
Subfamily Bombyliinae - True Bee Flies
Bee Flies in the subfamily Bombyliinae usually have the stout and hairy body. They have long and slender proboscis. The wing vein M1 meets R5 before the wing margin. Sometimes this subfamily is called True Bee Flies because their hairy body resembles bee. 
Subfamily Lomatiinae - Brown Bee Flies
In this subfamily, the Bee flies have relatively long wings and slender body. Their wing vein Rs forks well before r-m, with R4 and R5 strongly looped. They usually have the narrower and flattened abdomen. They are brown to dark brown in colours.
Subfamily Anthracinae - Subfamily Anthracinae - Black Bee Flies and Stout Bee Flies
Anthracinae is a very large subfamily. We found quite a number of species in this subfamily and listed in different tribes as below;
Tribe Anthracini - Black Bee Flies
Bee Flies in this tribe have their wing vein Rs forks very close to cross vein r-m. They are close to the Exoprosopini except they have a pencil of hairs at the tip of antenna. They are from small to medium in size. Most of them are dark brown to black in colour, with patterned wings.
Tribe Exoprosopini - Stout Bee Flies
In this tribe, the Bee flies also have their wing vein Rs forks very close to cross vein r-m. They have stout body comparing with Bee Flies in other groups.
Tribe Villini - Banded Bee Flies
Other subfamilies  

Self Mimicry 

On Apr 2009 in Anstead Forest neat the hill top, we found this male Thraxan Bee Fly and noticed its interesting behaviour. The fly was hovering and resting on a large smooth bark gum tree trunk. When rested, it face upwards with abdomen tip raised. With the black and white patterns on abdomen, it looked exactly like a Tachinid Fly resting on tree trunk facing downwards. We do not sure what is the advantage of mimicking a Tachinid Fly resting on tree trunk.
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Besides mimicking a Tachinid Fly, this is also the Self mimicry (a term for animals that have one body part that mimics another to increase survival during an attack or helps predators appear innocuous to allow the prey extra seconds to escape). In this case, the fly's abdomen mimics its head. Because the patterns are black and white in colour, we may deduce that its target audience are with colour-blindness. 

1. Insects of Australia, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, p 758.
2. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus & Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p363.
3. Bee Flies (Bombyliidae) - by Giff Beaton, 2005. 
4. Family BOMBYLIIDAE - Australasian/Oceanian Diptera Catalog - Web Version, by Greg Daniels.
5. The cladistics and classification of the Bombyliidae (Diptera: Asiloidea) - by David K.Yeates, 1994.
6. An evolutionary radiation of beeflies in semi-arid Australia: systematics of the Exoprosopini (Diptera: Bombyliidae) - Lambkin CL, Yeates DK & Greathead DJ, Invertebrate Systematics, 2003.
7. Bombyliidae - Tree of Life, by David K. Yeates and Christine L. Lambkin, 1994. 
8. Northern Territory Insects, A Comprehensive Guide CD - Graham Brown, 2009.
9. Family BOMBYLIIDAE Bee Flies - Australian Biological Resources Study, Australian Faunal Directory.
10. Bee Flies of the World. The genera of the family Bombyliidae - Hull, F.M. 1973, Bulletin of the United States National Museum 286: 1-687 [104]. 

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Last updated: December 08, 2012.