Belongs to: bumblebees

Compare with: white-tailed bumblebee

Buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris


Best time to see: mid Mar to late Sep

Key facts

Our largest species of bumblebee, found throughout Britain in a wide variety of habitats, including gardens

Queens are among the earliest to emerge in spring, sometimes as early as February, often feeding on willow catkins

Recognition

Queens are mainly black with two dark yellow bands and an off-white tail

Workers are similarly marked but smaller

Lifecycle

Nest underground in a chamber approached by a long downward-sloping entrance tunnel, usually in grassy banks

Colonies usually remain active until late September

Queens emerge from hibernation in spring, build themselves up with nectar and pollen, then search for a nest-site

  • Main photo
  • queen

Photo © Tony Gunton

Photo © Tony Gunton