Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Buff-tailed Bumblebee ©Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photograhpy

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Scientific name: Bombus terrestris
The Buff-tailed Bumblebee can be found in gardens and parks, buzzing around daisy-like flowers. It is our largest bumble bee and emerges in early spring. It nests in large, underground colonies.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 2.0-2.2cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

March to August

About

Our largest bumble bee, the Buff-tailed Bumblebee is named after the queen's buff-coloured tail. The worker bees have almost white tails, however, making it hard to tell them apart from White-tailed Bumblebees. The Buff-tailed Bumblebee is a widespread species that visits many different types of flowers for pollen and nectar; it has a short tongue, however, so prefers open, daisy-like flowers. It nests underground in large colonies of up to 600 bees, often using the old nests of small mammals.

How to identify

The Buff-tailed Bumblebee has a yellow collar near the head and another on the abdomen. The queen has a buff-coloured 'tail', while the workers have white 'tails' with a faint buff line separating them from the rest of the abdomen. Males have buff-tinged tails and also have black hair on their faces.

Distribution

Found in lowland areas throughout the UK.

Did you know?

Buff-tailed Bumblebees are known as ‘nectar robbers’: if they come across a flower that is too deep for their tongue, they bite a hole at its base and suck out the nectar. Afterwards, other insects looking for nectar will also use this handy hole.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.