To Bee or not to Bee

If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear this was a Bumblebee… what about you? The trick to telling that this is not a bee is to look at his eyes. See how big they are? That’s because he’s not a bee, he’s a Hoverfly. Specifically the Bumble Bee mimicking Hoverfly, Volucella bombylans. Even more specifically, if you like that kind of thing (I do!) he’s a Volucella bombylans var. plumata – this type has a white tail, mimicking the White-tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus lucorum) and the Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris).

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Now this is a real Bumblebee. A slightly dopey one that had stopped on my garden table to have a wash, but still a real Bumble. See the big difference in the eyes? They also have quite different antennae to the fakers.

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Next time you spot what you think is a bee, take a closer look! There are many Hoverfly mimics which will have you fooled with Bumbles and other types of bee.

By Suzy Shipman

I like to take photos and write words ...


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