Hill Cuckoo Bee - Bombus rupestris

Alternative names
Psithyrus rupestris

Body lengths, female 22 mm, male 16 mm. The queens are large with a black body with a 'tail' of red hairs at the tip of the abdomen. The wings are suffused dark brown. Males are smaller with clear wings and many have some dull yellow hairs on the front of the abdomen and on both the front and rear of the thorax. These yellow hairs, however, do not form a distinct band.

Identification difficulty

It is found along with the host bee, the Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius), in dry unimproved, grassland, often on the coast.

When to see it

Bombus rupestris adults can be seen from April/May to September.

Life History

Takes over the nests of Bombus lapidarius. Mated queens of Bombus rupestris overwinter and emerge somewhat later than the host.

UK Status

Local in central and southern England and quite scarce (often coastal) elsewhere in Britain.

VC55 Status

Uncommon 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