Is this a bee, a wasp, or a fly?
I thought this picture was of a "sweat" bee type bee. Someone writing on my blog suggested it’s a wasp. I tried checking it out and realized I’m not sure at all — looking at the waist, I don’t think it’s a wasp and the eyes make me wonder if it’s some sort of bee-mimicking fly. There’s no ruler, but as you can see in comparison to the bee balm, it’s a tiny whatever. Thank you.
This is a Flower Fly or Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae. They are also called Syrphid Flies. Many species in the family do mimic bees and wasps, so your confusion is understandable. The adult flies do not sting or bite and are important as pollinators. The larvae, according to BugGuide, occupy a variety of habitats: “Larvae may feed on decaying vegetation, aquatic detritus, or wet wood, others are predators, especially of aphids. Some larvae are myrmecophiles , i.e., live in ant nests, and a few are associated with wasps. A few attack living plants, especially bulbs of forbs. Larvae that live in water with much decaying organic matter have a long anal breathing tube, and are called ‘rat-tailed maggots’.” The species with predatory larvae are quite important in gardens for aphid control.