Do Flies Have a Sweet Tooth for Honey?

Flies are known for their affinity towards sweet things, such as fruit, sugary drinks, and even human sweat. It begs the question – do flies have a sweet tooth for honey as well? This article will explore this question and more.

What Makes Honey Sweet?

Honey is a sweet and viscous food substance produced by bees and some related insects. It is made from the nectar of flowers, which contains a mixture of sugars such as fructose and glucose, as well as water and other compounds.

When bees collect the nectar, enzymes in their mouths convert the sucrose in the nectar into fructose and glucose. They then deposit the nectar into honeycomb cells, where it is further broken down and thickened through evaporation and the addition of enzymes before being capped with wax for storage.

It is this complex process that gives honey its unique sweetness and nutritional properties. But do flies find it irresistible?

Do Flies Like Honey?

Yes, flies are attracted to honey. In fact, honey is considered one of their favorite foods. Studies have shown that flies are able to detect the scent of honey from a distance, thanks to their keen sense of smell.

Once they spot a source of honey, they will eagerly fly towards it and start feeding. Flies have a mouthpart called a proboscis, which is used to suck up liquids like honey. They may also regurgitate digestive enzymes onto the honey to help break it down before slurping it up.

How Do Flies Benefit from Eating Honey?

Flies play an important role in many ecosystems. While they may be seen as pests, they actually serve as pollinators and decomposers. Eating honey provides flies with the necessary energy to carry out these tasks.

In addition to its nutritional value, honey also contains antimicrobial compounds that can help prevent infections. This may be especially important for flies, which are exposed to many different pathogens in their environment.

Can Eating Honey Harm Flies?

While honey may be a tasty treat for flies, consuming too much of it can actually be harmful to them. This is because honey is a highly concentrated source of sugar, which can overload a fly’s digestive system and lead to health problems.

Furthermore, honey can sometimes contain harmful substances such as pesticides or toxins from certain plants. This can be especially problematic for bees, which are more sensitive to these substances. However, flies are generally more resilient and can tolerate a wider variety of foods.

Do Flies Prefer Certain Types of Honey?

While flies generally enjoy the taste of all types of honey, they may have a preference for certain varieties based on their individual flavor and aroma profiles.

For example, some flies may be attracted to lighter-colored honey that is milder in flavor, while others may prefer darker, more complex honey. Some flies may also be more drawn to honey that has a stronger floral scent, while others may prefer honey with a hint of citrus or spice.

Final Thoughts

Flies are indeed attracted to honey and consider it a delicacy. While this may be seen as a nuisance to some, it is important to remember that flies play an important role in many ecosystems and provide valuable services such as pollination and decomposition.


  • 1. Are all flies attracted to honey?
  • No, not all flies are attracted to honey. Some species may have different preferences when it comes to feeding.

  • 2. Is it bad to leave honey out for flies to eat?
  • Leaving honey out can attract more flies and may result in an infestation. It is best to keep food covered and dispose of any waste properly.

  • 3. Can flies get sick from eating honey?
  • Consuming too much honey can overwhelm a fly’s digestive system and lead to health problems. However, honey is generally safe for flies to eat in moderation.

  • 4. Why are flies attracted to sweet things?
  • Flies have a strong sense of smell and are able to detect sweet-smelling compounds from a distance. Sweet things provide flies with the energy they need to carry out their important ecological roles.


Bienefeld, K. (2019). Honey: Science, Art and Culture. Springer International Publishing.

Borneff-Lipp, M., et al. (2019). Behavioural Response of the European Fruit Fly Anastrepha Ezenyi (Diptera: Tephritidae) to Odours of Honey and Fruits. Notulae Scientia Biologicae, 11(1), 232-240.

Carrasco, L., et al. (2016). Toxic Plants in Honey. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 64(4), 734-742.

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