Bees vs Flies: Difference and Comparison

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 practised. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Bees are essential for pollination and produce honey, while flies serve as decomposers and aid in breaking down organic matter.
  2. Bees have two pairs of wings and robust bodies, whereas flies have one pair of wings and slender bodies.
  3. Flies exhibit rapid and erratic flight patterns, while bees display more deliberate and purposeful movement.

Bees vs Flies

Bees are flying insects known for their role in pollination and honey production, characterized by their fuzzy bodies and ability to sting once before dying. Flies are a large group of insects that includes houseflies, blowflies, and more, characterized by their fast flight, ability to walk on ceilings, and lack of a sting.

Bees vs Flies

 There are over 20,000 species of bees, 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

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.

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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 can now 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. 

bees

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. Houseflies can reproduce very quickly from various species of flies, so 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 approximately 29 days. Unlike bees, they don’t have much of an economic purpose, and instead, we frequently sanitize our homes to get rid of flies. 

flies

Main Differences Between Bees and Flies

  1.  There are more than 20,000 species of bees around the world, of which 4,000 are native to the US. On the other hand, 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. The eyes of bees are slightly oval and present on the sides of their head, whereas flies have comparatively larger eyes that seem like almost bulging out.
  5. Bees have long straw-like tongues called a 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 are very important 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
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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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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