The Bee Flies of Coed y Bwl

Coed-y-Bwl in April. Common Bee Flies are now on the wing - displaying their amazing aerobatics as they comb golden carpets of Lesser Celandines for nectar.

Bee fly by Richard Marks

Bee fly by Richard Marks

These tiny bee mimics (Bombylius major) have long, slender proboscis, ideally suited to rapid feeding amongst early Spring flowers - long before hordes of other insects join the feast.

They dart around at incredible speed - and then hover like tiny humming birds over the nest holes of bumble bees where the females scatter their eggs - a strategy that fools the bees. Eggs are carried into the nest chamber where the fly's emerging parasites feed on the bee grubs, sucking them dry. Not exactly helpful to the bee population - but this is the nature of life in an old woodland where evolution has served up the right balance for resident wildlife.

Two welcome visitors to the reserve - the Blackcap and the Chiffchaff - were late arrivals this year - probably delayed by continuous east wind - while on their long journey from Africa and the Mediterranean.

Richard Marks - Local Group Volunteer