As well as more and more bees, including a Tree Bumble Bee , B hypnorum and the most beautiful big queen Common Carder Bee, B pascuorum, the funny little bee flies are making an appearance. They, too, are feeding on the buckthorn.
Bee flies, Bombylius major, are experts at hovering. I watched one hover by a flower almost motionless while pushing that long snout deep into the flower. I don’t think bees can hover and feed at the same time.. but I could be wrong.
This bee fly had been flying with its characteristic, dart-and-hover movement just above the paving stones, then came to rest on the side of the shed. In flight its wings are a blur, but here you can see the beautiful dark markings on the forewings reminiscent of some dragonflies.
Although they look a little like bees they are true flies and parasitic on some bees and wasps. It seems they need to keep warm and according to the Natural History Museum :
“Many individuals fly along the ground to absorb heat, whilst others fly further up trees to maximise direct sunlight.
When cold, the bee-flies perch vertically, pointing upwards, and they can remain in this position for a week or even longer (Knight 1967)”
I have not seen a motionless bee fly pointing upwards yet :)
I walked up by the reservoir today in the glorious sun, where dozens of bumble bees were feeding on the willows and cruising low to the ground looking for nest sites.
And the early blackthorns were swarming with hundreds of tiny solitary bees. I just wish I knew what they were!