Bug of the Week: Is it a bee, wasp or fly?

This bug of the week raises more questions than it answers.

solitary bee

It is yellow and black. Is it a flower fly?

solitary bee

Is it a wasp?

solitary bee

A close-up shows it has four wings and a fuzzy body, which makes it a bee.

Now, what kind of bee is it?


  1. Jeff Taylor

    ok so i also wonder what type of bee this is, i watched 2 fly around a flower bush on my section today and was surprised to see a species of what is certainly a bee that looks like this, ive never seen this kind before. they exhibited odd behaviour too, one sort of hounded the other in an aggressive fashion before relenting and going for the flowers too. they look alot like wasps but i even saw them carrying the satandard back leg pollen bundles. wonder what type it is 🙂 also they both left the flower bush and dispersed at the same moment. seemingly both responding to the same signal or genetic impulse.

  2. Roberta

    Interesting observations. I never did sort out what kind of bee it was, either.

  3. Loretta Dickey

    I see these all the time on the back porch. They buzz around and have even landed on my foot. They aren’t aggressive but I wonder if they sting. I’ve killed several but we see a lot of them. Bee, Fly, or Wasp?

  4. Roberta


    The insects in this photograph are called cuckoo bees. This one is likely Xeromelecta californica http://bugguide.net/node/view/464740

    Cuckoo bees are like the cuckoo birds in that they lay their eggs in the nests of other bees and don’t take care of them at all. Because they have no nest to defend, they are not aggressive.

    However, as I am pointing out in the article, they are mimics, which means they look like wasps. Generally you wouldn’t see a lot of them at once, which makes me wonder if you don’t have something else. You might want to consider having one that you killed checked by an expert. Try your county Cooperative Extension service or you can submit a photograph to BugGuide (the link above) if you have a good one.

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