Are flies faster than bees?

Table of Contents

Flying insects are all around us, mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, etc., each one of them plays a specific role in our ecosystem. Bees are a type of flying insect that is capable of attacking a human being even to the point of fatality. One unique quality that flying insects possess is their ability to take off from a state of rest at full speed.


do bees fly faster than flies
are flies faster than bees

In this article, we will be closely studying the bees and flies, comparing their speed against each other to determine which one is faster among both of them.

To address the question, are flies faster than bees? We need to first confirm that there are numerous types of flies in existence. Research has shown that there are over 120,000 different species that can be found globally.

However, the first species that comes to mind when the name “fly” is mentioned is the house fly. Therefore let us first discuss the house fly.

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How fast can a housefly fly?

The house fly is probably the most common insect that is found in our homes. They are fondly known for their strong affinity for filthy environments, and so they are found in places where refuse is dumped, and decaying matters can be found. Almost all decaying matter begins to give out maggot after a while, and since maggots are part of the developmental stage in the lifecycle of a housefly, it, therefore, reveals that house flies had been around that place to lay their eggs.

Houseflies are a symbol of a poor hygienic condition, and we do our best to get rid of them whenever we see them. If you have ever tried to trap one, you probably realized that they are very fast to evade, but how fast could they possibly be? Could they be faster than bees? 

Why are flies so fast?

According to scientific study, the housefly can fly up to the speed of 7km/hr, which is not as fast as it might seem to the human. The only reason they appear to us as very fast is because they possess additional acrobatic skills when navigating the air and evading our attacks.

How fast can a bee fly?

The honey bees are a quiet colony of insects living far away from us. We usually encroach into their territory in a bid to harvest from their supply of sweet and nutritious honey. Many people who encroached into bee territory had horrible stories to tell because they are very territorial of their hives and attack any threat with painful stings. Another scary part of the bee attack is that they can chase their potential victim to a long distance at high speed. According to the “bible” of bee keeping, a honey bee’s average speed is between 24-32km/hour. The book also says that bees can fly at even greater speed if they are not carrying any plant resin: water, pollen, or nectar on them.

If we were to compare the speed of a housefly to that of a bee, then the bee will excel more in the race. 

There are numerous other kinds of flies that fly at a far greater speed than any bee. As you continue reading, you will soon see that the fastest flying insect is a fly, albeit a different species from the housefly. 

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Are Bees faster than Humans?

Those who have had an ugly encounter with bees will tell you how dangerous they can be. Bees attack as a swarm and are able to bring a full adult man to the ground without any chance for him to get up. 

Bees are very protective of their territory, especially their hive. Some species of bees are less aggressive than others, but they can all sting when provoked. 

When you are confronted by them, knowing what to do and what not to do is crucial for your survival.

The most important step in overcoming their attack is to avoid it altogether. 

To achieve this, you must be aware of the specific areas where the bees are located and stay away from such a place. Some of these areas include holes in trees, holes in the ground, cracks on the wall, etc. Also, pay attention to your junk before attempting to dispose of it; some bees may have found refuge there. Usually, before the bees attack, they give warning signals. Be watchful of such warnings, which may involve some of the bees hovering around your head. If you notice this, quickly leave the vicinity before it gets messy.

When in the wild, pay as much care to the sight of bees as you would when you see a snake and other dangerous creatures. Bees would normally not disturb you if they are going about their normal activities, except when you do something to aggravate them.

Africanized bee attacks can always be traced to a provocation such as someone tossing a stone into their hive or poking it with a stick. They can also be disturbed by the sound of types of machinery such as tractors and mowers. When they gather to attack, they look for any object they assume to threaten them and swarm around it.

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Can a Human Outrun a bee?

Contrary to popular belief, bees are not very good runners, they may beat the housefly in a race, but their speed is far from impressive. 

Their acrobatics in the air and ease of acceleration make it seem like they are fast runners. According to research, the top speed of a bee is somewhere between 12 to 15miles per hour, and most healthy humans can run faster than that. Usain bolt, the fast runner, ran at 27.8 mph. Therefore running is your best line of action during a bee attack. Run as fast as you can to the closest shelter.

If you know this, you will be able to outrun them into safety. The fear that the bees would catch up with you and the noise they make when they move in a swarm is the reason many people end up suffering from several stings. Running and looking back would make you fall down, hit an obstacle, or slow down your pace.

While running away from them, try to run in a straight line with a focus of outrunning them and taking shelter in a safe place. Typically, a swarm of bees will return back to their hive after about 20 minutes of waiting for their target that is in hiding.

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How Bees Behave During Attacks on Humans

A swarm of bees will attack the first object in their sight; this means if you are running with a person, you should try as much as possible to outrun him or her. Your aim should be to get out of their sight as fast as you can so you can call for help.

When bees attack, it is their goal to get you out of their territory as quickly as they can. This means if you should keep running for a long-distance, they will soon back off from chasing you. Standing in a freezing position or trying to play dead will not work. This is because before they come for you, they must have positively identified you as their target; they won’t back off until they get you out of their zone.  But, if you do happen to get stung by bees, seek medical attention immediately.  However, it is always a good idea to keep the right medicines in your first aid box just in case.

Killer bees: What are they?

The mere sound of the name might send fear down the spine of people. The use of the word killer, portray them to be an assassin colony of bees. This is not truly the case. The killer bees are the Africanized bees.

In Brazil, around the 1950s, bee farmers decided to crossbreed the European honey bees with the African species of honey bees. This was done on others to increase the rate of production of honey. The resultant offspring is what is known today as Africanized bees. Due to the cross breeders’ carelessness, some of the bees escaped from their quarantine. These bees have since been spreading in population across the globe.

Africanized bees share many similarities with other types of bees, except that they are more aggressive. Thus, they will attack more readily than other species of bees. According to experience, these bee species will chase their target to a distance farther than any of the other species and sting more readily.

Are Killer Bees More Venomous?

The Africanized Bee may be more aggressive and resilient than the other species, but that has nothing to do with their venom’s potency. It is just like that of other species, so it does not differ, although a victim of an attack by this species of bee will suffer up to 10 times more stings than if a regular bee attacked them.

What if bees sting you? Bee stings are painful; there is no denying it. Multiple stings hurt more much more. However, an online medical website says that most people can get rid of 10 bee stings per pound of body weight, or more than 1,500 stings per adult. In any case, records show only about 50 deaths per year. In most of these deaths, these victims were hyperallergic to bee venom or could not move away from the bees leading to suffocation. 

If you suffered multiple stings, seek medical help as soon as you can. 

Below is a list of tips you can try to avoid a confrontation with them.

● Do not put on dark-colored clothes. Experts have observed that bees would generally go after dark objects like backpacks and hairs. Secure your head with a cloth or net if you can.

● Do not use citrus or floral perfumes and aftershaves when going towards bee territory. This is because bees are very sensitive to pleasant and unpleasant odors. It is said that the smell of newly cut grass can get them angry very quickly.

● Check around your property occasionally to see if a colony is building up. In case you find one, keep your pets and family members away from the area and contact a pest control specialist who can help to get rid of them.

● To avoid hosting honey bees in your home, make sure to fill any cracks on the wall when you notice any.

The above preventive measures will help you stay away from their trouble, but if you do get them aggravated that they start chasing you, the following steps will help you get to safety with only minimal stings on non-delicate parts of your body.

Once you notice that a swarm of bees is coming after you, do not try to pick up anything; run immediately. Trying to fight back  at them will not achieve any result, and neither try to stand thinking you may fool them. Run indoors as fast as you can.

Most humans can outrun a bee, so running is your best bet during a bee attack.

Make use of any covering for your head and face; this is because bees are known to attack eyes, leading to physical impairment in the victim. A net, blanket, or towel perfectly does the job while you run for cover. In case you have none of those around, then you can pull your clothing over your face.

Run into a shelter as soon as possible and shut the door behind you. The bees typically will get confused in a darker environment. You can easily kill the few that enter with you with a vacuum cleaner or any object. A bee can only sting once, so even if the few enter with you sting you, you will be safe and have the upper hand against them. A car, house, etc. will be a safe refuge for you as long as you keep the windows and doors shut.

Do not attempt to enter into a river or any body of water because bees are smart creatures. They will wait for you to come out of the water or raise your head to breathe and swarm at you.

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What is the Fastest Flying insect?

Humans are usually fascinated by insects’ speed, and researchers have recorded that of some. For example, a hummingbird moth’s speed is up to 54km/hour, even though it is not the fastest insect. The prize for the fastest flying insect goes to the dragonfly. This insect is also a good entertainer as it can do multiple acrobatics in the air while flying at 54km/ hour. 

More about Dragonflies

The dragonflies are mostly found around lakes, and sometimes they hover around reflective surfaces, mistaking them for a water body. Entomologists from the Smithsonian Institution believe that they have been on the earth for over 300million years, and there are many species of them. Apart from Antarctica, every other continent on the face of the earth has different types of dragonflies.

The secret behind the amazing speed that these creatures possess is in the design of their body structure and wings. 

These two attributes make the insect accelerate in a manner that others cannot: Their body is designed for a smooth flight like that of a modern aircraft. Their shape makes airflow through their wings and abdomen to reduce aerodynamic drag. These insects can conveniently fly in forward, reverse, sideways, up, or downward directions without any stress. This swiftness is their advantage when hunting their prey (usually smaller insects).

Joint research carried out by the National Science Foundation and Harvard University employed high-speed cameras to study the hunting prowess of some dragonflies. They discovered that the flies were 90 percent successful in their hunt for fruit flies. While still in mid-air, the dragonflies flip downwards and eat up the prey right during their flight.

Furthermore, dragonflies are an asset to humans as they prey on mosquitoes. Each dragonfly can eat up to hundreds of mosquitoes in a day.

Below is a list of other fast-flying insects

Flying Insect



950 beats per seconds


600 beats per seconds


600 beats per seconds


300 beats per seconds


247 beats per seconds


190 beats per seconds


150 beats per seconds


120 beats per seconds


100 beats per seconds


As you have seen, flies and bees are interesting creatures, and they are both of different species. The fastest flying insects are a type of fly known as dragonflies, with a top speed of 56km/hr (35mph). This speed far outweighs the maximum speed at which a bee can fly. However, if the comparison is to be done between the bee and the most common fly that lives with us (housefly), then the speed of the bee far exceeds that of the fly.

Furthermore, we discussed the best line of defense against a bee attack, which is running straight into safety. Bees are territorial insects and will do all that is needed to defend their hive. The farther you get away from their territory, the more the chances of them backing off from chasing you.

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Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.