Difference Between Bees and Flies

Sometimes it can become hard to distinguish between a bee and a fly as some flies can also have yellow and black color combinations like that of a bee.

But, if we look closely we will spot that bees have two pairs of wings whereas flies have a single pair.

Beekeeping or apiculture is a very profitable business (producing honey and other commercial products) where fly farming is not much famous or widely practiced. 

Bees vs Flies

The main difference between bees and flies is that bees have two pairs of wings, comparatively smaller eyes, and a long tongue as compared to flies that have only one pair of wings, excessively bigger eyes, and straw-shaped tongue for sucking purposes. 

Bees vs Flies

 There are over 20,000 species of bees out of which 4,000 are native to North America. The native bees are better pollinators such as bumblebees and blue orchard bees.

Bees are of high economic value especially the honeybees that are cultivated for honey and beeswax. 

Flies are very common pests in every corner of the world. It is dangerous to human beings especially because they can transmit several life-threatening diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.

Flies have a very short life span but they can reproduce quickly and in a very large number. 

Comparison Table Between Bees and Flies

Parameters of ComparisonBeesFlies
SpeciesThere are more than 20,000 species of bees around the world out of which 4,000 are native to the US. The true flies belong to the order Diptera and there are more than 110,000 species of flies in the world. 
WingsBees have two pairs of wings but it may appear like a single pair because the forewings and hind wings are connected. Flies only have one set of wings. 
AntennaeBees have comparatively longer antennae than flies. Most flies have shorter antennae at the tip of which there is a long bristle called an arista. 
EyesThe shape of the eyes is slightly oval and present on the sides of their head. Flies have comparatively larger eyes which seems like almost bulging out. 
MouthBees have long straw-like tongues called a proboscis. Flies have straw-shaped tongues which help in sucking their food because they mostly eat liquids. 
Food habitsBees mainly survive on nectar and honey (in the case of the honeybee). Flies feed on organic decaying material that contains vegetables, fruits, plant secretions, etc. They can also suck nectar from flowers. 
PollinationBees play a very important role in pollination. Flies can only pollinate very limited varieties of crops. 
Economic valuesBees are cultured extensively for honey and beeswax. Flies, on the other hand, turn out to be very harmful as they can transmit several diseases. 

What are Bees?

Bees belong to the class Insecta, order Hymenoptera, and suborder Apocrita. Like any other insect, a bee has a head with two antennae, a thorax, and an abdomen. They have six legs and two pairs of wings.

Only the female bees have stingers and it is used for laying eggs. Bees appear in a variety of colors including black and yellow combinations, red, blue, and even black. 

Though there are thousands of species of bees, honeybees are very common worldwide because of their economic purposes. They are originally from Eurasia but now can be spotted across the globe.

Bees survive on nectar and pollen from the flowering plants. Bees are responsible for pollinating 80% of the total flowering plants in the US.

Not all bees build nests, for example, the “cuckoo bees” lay eggs on the nest of other species.

Sometimes they also kill the host larvae to ensure enough food for their larvae. 

What are Flies?

Flies belong to the class Insecta, order Diptera, and suborder Panorpida. Female flies are capable of laying 75-150 eggs at a time. Out of various species of flies, houseflies can reproduce very quickly, and hence they are very common.

Apart from houseflies, there are also horseflies and fruitflies. Though horseflies are not known for transmitting any disease, their bites can cause allergic reactions. On the other hand, fruitflies can contaminate food with disease-causing pathogens. 

The lifespan of a housefly is 29 days approximately. Unlike bees, they don’t have much of an economic purpose and instead, we frequently sanitize our home to get rid of flies. 

Main Differences Between Bees and Flies

  1.  There are more than 20,000 species of bees around the world out of which 4,000 are native to the US. On the other hand, the true flies belong to the order Diptera and there are more than 110,000 species of flies in the world. 
  2. Bees have two pairs of wings but it may appear like a single pair because the forewings and hind wings are connected whereas flies only have one set of wings. 
  3. Bees have comparatively longer antennae than flies. 
  4. Eyes of bees are slightly oval and present on the sides of their head whereas flies have comparatively larger eyes that seems like almost bulging out.
  5. Bees have long straw-like tongues called proboscis whereas flies have straw-shaped tongues which help in sucking their food because they mostly eat liquids. 
  6. Bees mainly survive on nectar and honey (in the case of the honeybee) whereas Flies feed on organic decaying material that contains vegetables, fruits, plant secretions, etc.
  7. Bees play a very important role in pollination whereas flies have less important roles.
  8. Bees are cultured extensively for honey and beeswax. Flies, on the other hand, turn out to be very harmful as they can transmit several diseases.
Difference Between Bees and Flies

Conclusion

There are several hundred thousand species of bees and flies across the globe. Entomology is the study of insects where one can study every species of flies, bees, and even wasps along with their behavior.

Though species under a class share some common features, many differences also arise with order and suborders. 

Bees and flies can be distinguished based on their physical features like eyes, tongue, wings, etc. China is the largest producer of honey and thus apiculture proves to be of significant importance for nations.

On the other hand, we should get rid of any breeding zones of flies from our homes and surrounding to prevent the spread of diseases. 

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065280614000071
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/BF00298031.pdf
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