Currently viewing the category: "Honey Bees"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Accidental Photo of What May be an Exposed Bird-Dropping Moth
Location: Coryell County, central Texas
April 27, 2013 5:23 pm
I was photographing this honey bee on the wild milkweed today (may be Antelope Horn Milkweed?) and I later noticed a tiny fly (bee?), an ant, and what may be an Exposed Bird-Dropping Moth in the photo. No, I didn’t make up that name. 🙂 Here is a reference I found online:
Warm, cloudy weather with scattered showers.
Thank you!
Signature: Ellen

Honey Bee and Moth on Milkweed

Honey Bee and Moth on Milkweed

Dear Ellen,
There are many moths that have coloration and markings that seem to mimic bird droppings, and when we first saw your subject line, we thought you must have meant one of the Wood Nymphs in the genus 
Eudryas.  Your moth does resemble the Bird Dropping Moth, however, we don’t believe it is the same species.  You were focused on the Honey Bee, so the details in the moth are not as sharp.  We did find another good image of a different species called the Small Bird Dropping Moth, Tarachidia erastrioides, on the Fontenelle Nature Association Nature Search website, but again, we don’t think it looks like an exact match to your moth.

What's That Moth???

What’s That Moth???

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bees – and behavior?
Location: Morgantown, WV
January 13, 2013 10:48 am
Hello Bugman,
We are having a January thaw in W. Virginia and I’ve had an invasion of what I think are honeybees – they’ve been excavating my birdfeeder. I was wondering if you could tell me what exactly they are doing and if I need to do anything about them? They have already kicked out about half of the bird seed and show no sign of stopping. I’m not terribly worried given that the weather is supposed to change again tomorrow. But I am very curious!
Signature: Bugwatcher Guitry

Honey Bees

Dear Bugwatcher Guitry,
Probably the person most qualified to answer your questions would be a local bee keeper, but we will try to speculate.  These are definitely Honey Bees.  This odd behavior is definitely linked to the unseasonably warm weather.  Perhaps it triggered a swarming activity and these workers are searching for a new location for a hive.  They are certainly not eating the bird seeds, but they might be emptying the feeder in a futile effort to create a new hive.  Alas, they will most likely perish when the weather changes.  We wonder if there are any other examples of this occurring right now.

Dear Bugman,
Thank you so much for your reply and speculation. The bees emptied the entire feeder – and then left. Sadly I suspect they will perish if not tonight then very soon. It was about 68°F here yesterday. Now we are at the high temperature for the day at 43°. Watching them over the weekend was quite fascinating. My neighbor, who lives about a quarter of a mile away does keep bees. I will have to ask him – perhaps they were some of his bees.
As always – I cannot thank you enough for your wonderful website. Thank you for your time and insights.
Bugwatcher Guitry

Let us know if your beekeeper neighbor has a theory.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

The Baccharis that is blooming in Elyria Canyon Park is attracting a myriad of insects in search of nectar.
Location:  Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
September 30, 2012

Baccharis near Red Barn in Elyria Canyon Park

The hedge of native Baccharis near the Red Barn in Elyria Canyon Park is about ten feet tall and it is currently in bloom.  There is a noticeable buzzing one hears upon approach, and that is caused by thousands of Honey Bees eagerly gathering nectar.  It seems Baccharis is a magnet for pollinating insects of all types, and without a doubt, the Honey Bees are the most numerous, but other insects can be spotted taking advantage of the bounty.

Honey Bees on Baccharis

Clare and Daniel made a trip on Saturday and though there was work to be done, Daniel used Clare’s camera to get a few photos.  The largest butterfly spotted on the Baccharis was a Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui, butDaniel was unable to get a photo with a spread wing view.

Painted Lady on Baccharis

Though the photo is quite out of focus, Daniel also managed to get a photo of this Checkered Skipper in the genus Pyrgus that did not want to hold still long enough to be photographed.

Checkered Skipper on Baccharis

A tiny creamy yellow butterfly was observed flying close to the ground, but it never landed, so no conclusive identification could be made.  Daniel returned today with a better camera and decided to document the visitors to the Baccharis.  A 50mm lens with a macro feature allowed for closeup photographs, however, since there was no zoom, the photographer often startled the insect subjects into flying away.  Luckily the tiny yellow butterfly made a return appearance and posed for two quick photos.  These photos substantiated a sighting local lepidopterist Julian Donahue made on August 23 of a Dainty Sulphur, Nathalis iole, though it is doubtful the individual Julian spotted over a month ago at his home is the same individual photographed in Elyria Canyon Park, which would indicate there may be a local population with noticeable numbers present in Mount Washington this summer.

Dainty Sulphur on Baccharis

There were at least three species of Gossamer Winged Butterflies present today, and the largest were the Gray Hairstreaks, Strymon melinus.  These little beauties have the habit of rubbing their hind wings together, perhaps to attract the attention of any predator into mistaking the tail and wing spots for the head of the butterfly and deflecting an attack from the vital organs to the expendable wings.

Gray Hairstreak and Honey Bee on Baccharis

Smaller than the Gray Hairstreak is another Gossamer Wing, the Marine Blue, Leptotes marina.  They were present in sufficient numbers to flutter about in small groups.

Marine Blue on Baccharis

The smallest of the Gossamer Winged Butterflies were another species of Blue, possibly the Achmon Blue, Plebejus acmon, though we are still awaiting Julian’s input on that identification.

Confirmation from Julian Donahue
NEW to the Mt. Washington Butterfly List! Good job, Daniel.
Although this is a tough group of butterflies to identify, it appears to be an Acmon Blue (Icaricia acmon). Larvae feed on Deerweed (Lotus scoparius, now Acmispon glaber) and Astragalus (none of this in Elyria that I know of); also on California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum.
Photo going up on MWHA Facebook page in the next few minutes.

Possibly Achmon Blue on Baccharis

The final butterfly species we were lucky enough to photograph today was an unidentified Grass Skipper in the family Hesperiinae, and they were also present in significant numbers.

Grass Skipper on Baccharis

Other visitors to the Baccharis that were spotted but not photographed include a Cabbage White, a Figeater, several Cactus Flies, a large Syrphid Fly and other flies.








What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What type of bee is this
Location: Melbourne, Florida
October 9, 2011 3:26 pm
I found some bees making a hive in an old flower pot. I’d like to identify them in order to deal with them properly.
Signature: Jeff Cyr

Honey Bee Hive in Flower Pot

Hi Jeff,
These look like common Honey Bees,
Apis mellifera, the domestic bees that are kept by bee keepers across the world.  See BugGuideas well as numerous other education websites for more information.  You can probably contact a local bee keeper and have the entire flower pot removed.  With Colony Collapse Disorder sweeping the nation, bee keepers are always in need of new hives.

Honey Bee Hive in Flower Pot

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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


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.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

paper wasps and alien fungal spaceship?
Location: Ocean Beach, CA
July 27, 2011 6:18 pm
JULY 27, 2011
This is the 2nd year our yard is well-populated by old-bamboo-fiber-stripping lawn-level cruising maybe paper-wasps of some sort judging by looks and behavior.
Visually back-tracking them to their apparent home in a 30+ ft high mature date palm a half block away we discovered a very disconcerting structure.
We don’t know if the structure is related to the wasps or not because we can’t get up there (and frankly don’t want to without hazmat gear), but – well, you can see in the images that it’s highly coincidental.
So, omniscient entomologistas: Paper Wasps? European neo-bauhaus nest? Alien fungal growth?
ps: the city vector crew were nonplussed and apathetic, equally.
Signature: mrobertson

Thing with Bees

Hi again mrobertson,
We have already addressed the European Paper Wasp image you supplied, and we can say with assurance that this mysterious “alien fungal growth” is not related to the wasps, however, it does appear to have two insects flying toward it and though it is difficult to make out details, those insects have the same general appearance of Honey Bees.  Honey Bees do have a somewhat distinctive carriage while in flight, and the insects in the photo are consistent with that shape.  There also appears to be another insect that might be a Honey Bee crawling on the “thing”.  While this “thing” looks nothing like a honeycomb, it might somehow be related to a bee hive, but we are not sure how.  Perhaps the tree originally held the nest of a woodpecker, and dripping sap hardened and created the shape under the hole.  Bees might have moved into the vacant hole after the woodpecker left.  We will try to contact Eric Eaton to see if he has any thoughts on this matter.  For now, we will tag this as a mystery.  We have also taken the liberty of creating a composite of the two flying insects so that they appear closer together in the enlarged version than they are in the original photograph.

Honey Bees or UFOs????

Apis and Inherent Omniscience
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for your time and effort.
Re omniscient: Not flattery, but an expression of hope – and thinking more along the lines of “inherent omniscience”, i.e., “the ability to know anything you choose to know that can be known” (various) and hoping that you would find out and choose to tell me as well. However let us not delve into teleological nomenclature but instead hear me admit that – I was afraid those were bees and your observation largely honks hours of patient sleuthing. Dang.
In 25 years here in Ocean Beach my madly ornithological ladyfriend has never seen or heard a woodpecker. We do however know what makes the holes:

What’s That Parrot??

after which they nest in them of course.
Date Palm trunks don’t have sticky sap that would run, nor are their cellulose interiors in any way green or anything but white-ish.
I have read somewhere – LSU ento site? That some indwelling wasps may wet and soften the material of a wood enclosure (such as the studs in your walls or a tree cavity), chew the wood up and force it out of cracks or holes to allow the nest to expand – which may form strange extruded shapes.
But these are bees, right? Maybe they weren’t always bees…
Working at the limit of our prosumer cameras from a neighbors elevated driveway a hundred feet away we got a few more revealing images of the “weird thing”.

“Thing” might be expanding foam (see comments)

I feel the “thing” is associated with the hive – you can see damaged or melted comb cells or something like that. In one still inadequate image you can see what appears to be a bee on the lip of the “thing”. In another, darker image – the mass appears to have the glow of encaustic wax.
I don’t see any significant difference in the structural shape between the March and July images – and we had some serious rain which lends to a theory of water resistance.
I cut the “thing” image out, dragged it into a google image search box  – and that worthy AI returned images of cast busts of heads of Paul Tillich, John Gorton of Australia, an asian deity, assorted meteoric stone – and diving way down  – a Jurassic Termite Nest of sedimentary rock.
Oh well. Someday.
Finally, for the goosebumply thrill of it – an all time horrorshow yellowjacket nest image  – from upper Michigan I believe:
one which makes me reflexively grab for my Epi-Pen.
Curiously yours,
[edit note: Edit, Cut, Paste, Ignore. Download any image you might wish to use or save rather than linking, as things in that dropbox are not permalink. MSU EDU image not mine]

Yellow Jacket Nest in Car (from MSU)

Hi Again mrobertson,
Thanks for the wonderful update.  We believe the image of the Honey Bee on the “Thing” supports our theory that there is a bee hive there.  Perhaps you didn’t notice the comment provided by Aariq who wrote:  “To me it looks almost like someone tried to get rid of the wasps by sealing up their hole with expanding foam, and then they just ate holes through it. That’s awfully high up to go through that sort of effort though.


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination