These large, hairy bees are generally black with varying degrees of yellow banding. Look closely at flowering plants and you’ll probably spot several species. Common bumblebees include garden, buff-tailed, red-tailed, white-tailed and field bumblebees.
They are social insects, living in colonies of up to 200 workers. Queens hibernate underground during the winter, emerging in spring to find suitable nest sites – for example, abandoned mouse holes. Each queen builds a nest of dried grasses and then lays about a dozen eggs that hatch into workers – sterile females.
The workers gather pollen and nectar to feed later batches of grubs. New queens and males hatch at the end of the season and mate. The males, workers and old queens die; new queens hibernate. Bumblebees are not aggressive and will only sting if they feel threatened. They are important pollinators of many plants and fruiting trees.
What they eat:
Nectar and pollen.
- Up to 22mm long, depending on the species and whether it's a queen, male or worker.