Buff-tailed Bumblebee - Bombus terrestris


Possibly the earliest bee to be seen and the largest to visit gardens. The queen is 2 cm or more, the workers and drones are of a more common bumblebee size: 14 to 17 mm in length. Whilst similar to Bombus lucorum, queens can be distinguished by the more golden yellow bands, compared to the lemon yellow of B. lucorum. However workers are generally indistinguishable in the field. Sometimes British specimens have a buff or orangey tail, which helps with identification.

Identification difficulty

Gardens, parks etc.

When to see it

February/March to October.

Life History

Nests in the ground, usually using an empty mouse nest. In western Europe a 100 bees occupying one nest may be considered the minimum and bigger nests may consist of no less than 600 bees. The younger queens are the only ones to hibernate through the winter.

UK Status

A common bee throughout Britain, although outside of England most records seem to be coastal.

VC55 Status

Common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map