Early Bumblebee - Bombus pratorum


Queen 15-17 mm, workers 10-14 mm, male 11-13 mm. The workers and the males are a little smaller than those of the Common Carder Bee. The front of the thorax is covered with yellow hairs, and it may be covered with yellow hairs entirely, especially in males. Often the first part of the abdomen is yellow as well, but the yellow hairs may be absent. The tail is strikingly orange. In older specimens the colouring may be less striking as the hairs tend to become dirty white, as in many other species. Due to its small size and colouring the Early Bumblebee is often easily identifiable.

Identification difficulty

Meadows, gardens, parks. Forages on White Clover, Lavender, Sage, Cotoneaster, Thistles and other Daisy type flowers.

When to see it

March onwards.

Life History

Bombus pratorum nests are shorter lived than other bumblebee nests averaging just 14 weeks. They can have two or even three colonies a year. New queens, instead of hibernating, will immediately start a nest. A nest may contain any number, usually from 50 to some 120 individuals.

UK Status

This is a very common species all over Britain.

VC55 Status

Very common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map