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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Six Years ago today we originally posted this exciting submission.

Ed. Note:  February 21, 2014
It has just come to our attention that this is one of the rarest North American Robber Flies,
Dasylechia atrox, and more information can be found on BugGuide.

Carnivorous bumble bee?
Location: Royal Oak, MI
August 2, 2011 2:15 pm
We have a honey bee hive in our yard and have been very bug friendly. We have cicada killing wasps in our driveway and we just steer clear of them instead of filling it with concrete.
Imagine my shock when I was hanging laundry out and saw one of our honey bees having the life drained out of it by what appears to be a bumble bee. Is it?
Signature: Jessica

Rare Robber Fly: Dasylechia atrox eats Honey Bee

Hi Jessica,
We absolutely love your email, and we would like to wax poetically after we answer your question.  This is a Robber Fly.  It is one of two genera that both feed on large flying insects including bees and wasps that are captured on wing.  Robber Flies are amazing hunters.  They do not sting.  They will not attack you and bite you, but they might bite you if you tried to pick one up, though we could not imagine how you would ever be able to catch one.  We cannot, based on your photo, determine if this is a Bee Killer in the genus
Mallophora, or a Bee-Like Robber Fly in the genus Laphria.  One of the ways they can be distinguished from one another is the shape of the antennae.  Your specimen appears to have antennae that end in fine filaments, a sign it is a Mallophora, however, upon enlarging the photo to better examine the details, your photo is not of high enough resolution to maintain image quality.  Your individual does not have markings similar to any of the five species represented on BugGuide, which makes us wonder if it might not be a Laphria, and based on the photos posted to BugGuide, there are several species with markings similar to your individual.  They seem to all have yellow beards, and it is not possible to make out the beard on your Robber Fly, though we are not sure if the black hairs are lost in the shadow or if the tasty Honey Bee meal is obscuring the beard.

Robber Fly eats Honey Bee

TO BE CONTINUED …

August 3, 2011
Hi again Jessica,
We are positively enthralled by the way you set the tone for your question by providing us with your bug friendly qualifications.  We would like to take additional time to comment on your mention of Cicada Killers.  We have devoted considerable internet real estate on our site toward lobbying for the preservation of Cicada Killers, and when we receive post-mortem images of them, we tag them as unnecessary carnage, but the fact of the matter is that we have never had to share our homes and yards with them.  We really cannot claim to have experienced first hand the communal nesting habits of these large wasps.  We applaud you for your tolerance and also for inquiring about this Robber Fly.  Since we began working on this posting, we have received another unidentifiable image of a large Robber Fly feeding on a Japanese Beetle, and the person who submitted that image wants to know how to encourage more of them.  These large Robber Flies are reported to be able to consume large quantities of Honey Bees, and for that reason, they have a bad reputation among bee keepers.  Thanks again for your wonderful submission.  

Thank you so much for the information. We try not to have knee jerk reactions to what we find in the yard and as the cicada killers are nonaggressive unless you happen to be a cicada, there was no reason to destroy their habitat. It’s a short two month inconvenience of my daughters running to the door from the driveway while screaming.
As for the robber flies, they may be a bit of a bother as we are beekeepers. We have already lost one hive to varroa mites a couple of years ago and would rather not lose another one. Now that I think about it, we have spotted a few smaller species of robber flies in our yard. We have never had these insects in our yard before. Do you think the beehive may be attracting them? Is there any way to humanely deter them from eating my bees?

Hi again Jessica,
We have no advice regarding the deterring of Robber Flies.  The smaller Robber Flies are most likely not preying on your bees, and the larger Robber Flies will not enter the hive.  They will attack individual bees that are in flight.  Good Luck.

Ben Coulter says:
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Help!!!
Location: Miami, FL
July 14, 2017 8:08 pm
I have these bees in a crevice under a window ledge outside that is about 1.5 feet off the ground. The bees have been there since about beginning of June and fly around all day near the front door. I think they are honey bees. I’m not sure. I sprayed it crevice tonight with a foaming pesticide and a little while later I found a total of 4 over the course of two hours flying inside the house!
Signature: I bee worried

Honey Bee

Dear I bee worried,
This is indeed a dead Honey Bee.  Wild Honey Bees often form a new hive in protected areas of homes.  If you have a Honey Bee hive under your window ledge, you are not going to solve the problem with foaming pesticide.  You should contact a local bee keeper who will come and remove the hive.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: GRANNYS BATTLE !
Location: Orange ,CA.
May 26, 2017 7:02 am
Hello there bugman
So my mom and daughter thought this flying bugger was a simple house fly at first until they WHACKED it with the fly swatter ,The thing took a good wallop but didnt phase it just angered it ! LOL after about 20 minutes of running around the house being “chased” by this guy they were finally able to take him out . Not sure if its a wasp or what but we do have a honey bee nest out back in an old boat that every year they come back to ,Never have seen this kind of bee,wasp,hornet whatever it is but if you can identify it that would be AWESOME cuz now my 5 year old daughter has the dead bug in a jar that she wants to take to school and share with her class lol so here i am
PLEASE HELP sincerly justin keefe
Signature: Justin Keefe

Honey Bee

Dear Justin,
This is a beneficial Honey Bee.  Without Honey Bees, the cultivation of apples, almonds and avocados as well as many other important food crops would be seriously, negatively impacted.  There are people who believe farming as we know it might not exist without Honey Bees.  If your family is troubled by having a Honey Bee nest in your old boat, you should contact a local bee keeper who will happily remove the hive for you.  While we acknowledge that removing a Honey Bee from the home without killing it might prove a challenge as a threatened Honey Bee will sting, we strongly recommend attempting to capture it in a wine glass or other glass and slipping a post card under the rim so it can be safely transported outdoors.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Wild Honey Bee Hive
Location:  Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date:  January 28, 2017 10:00 AM
We never had a chance to post this image we shot of a wild Honey Bee Hive in a hollow California Black Walnut Tree in Elyria Canyon Park.

Wild Honey Bee Hive

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Banded Garden Spider?
Location: Hialeah, Florida
September 8, 2016 7:43 am
I *think* this is a female Banded Garden Spider. I first saw it on August 14 and at first thought it was a tree snail due to the appearance of the back. The body was more than an inch long, and it stayed in its web in the same place for weeks, catching bees. I was rather hoping there would be a lot of baby spiders later, but a few weeks later there were 2 days of torrential rain during which time I didn’t look for her & when I did look, she was gone, leaving an intact web and no clue as to her disappearance. The third photo was one of a lucky series- I was taking a picture of her holding a webbed up bee when another bee landed in the web. She was on that second bee so fast I had to scramble to get pics! (I’ll send 3 more of the series in another query.)Spider webbing up caught bee. I chose these out of the series because one shows the bee clearly, and the other two do a fair job of showing the spinnerets in action.
Signature: Curious in Florida

Banded Garden Spider

Banded Garden Spider

Dear Curious in Florida,
Thanks for sending in your wonderful images of a Banded Garden Spider or Banded Orbweaver,
Argiope trifasciata.  They are an excellent addition to our archives.

Banded Garden Spider

Banded Garden Spider

Banded Garden Spider Snares Honey Bee

Banded Garden Spider Snares Honey Bee

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this eating another bug?
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, usa
August 5, 2016 5:44 pm
Looked like a fat bodie dragonfly but with spiky legs. About two inches long. Eating what looked like a bee. Little furry.
Signature: tittyj

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Honey Bee

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Honey Bee

Dear tittyj,
We are pretty certain your predator is a Robber Fly known as a Red Footed Cannibalfly, and the prey appears to be a Honey Bee.  The tip of the abdomen indicates this individual is a male.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination