Woodland Trust

Nature's CalendarNature Detectives

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Bumblebee (red-tailed). Pete Holmesqueen
red-tailed bumblebee

Bombus lapidarus


Why not download our queen red-tailed bumblebee fact sheet?

queen red-tailed bumblebee fact sheet

  • The queen has a big, black, round, hairy body with an orange-red tail

  • Workers are the same colour but much smaller

  • Males have similar colouring but with more yellow hair

  • Queens are up to 22mm long, workers can be as small as house flies

      Where found

      They usually nest on the ground, often under stones or at the base of dry stone walls. Can be seen in gardens and clover-rich grasslands

      Courtesy of the BBC  

      When to look

      Look out for queens emerging from March onwards - view live map

      Record only the queen red-tailed bumblebee

      Fabulous red-tailed bumblebee facts

      • Also known as the stone bumblebee

      • Freshly emerged queens search for a nesting site to start a new colony. Their nests are not tidy places like honey bee hives, and they’ll often use abandoned mouse nests

      • As spring progresses the smaller worker bees take over food collection while the queen lays more and more eggs

      • The size of the nest can vary from less than 100 bees to over 200

      • They have relatively short tongues and prefer to forage from flowers such as daisies, dandelions and thistles that are made up of lots of small florets

      • In the autumn the old queens, workers and males all die, leaving the newly mated queens to hibernate, usually in the soil