• Scientific name: Bombus spp
  • Type: Insects

Key information

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.

Identifying features:

Natural habitats: Flower border Hanging basket Hedge Herb garden Meadow area Patio Shed Shrub Window box Woodland area

Where and when to see them

Throughout the garden, collecting pollen and nectar from a variety of flowers and blossoms. Also in parks, woods, orchards and meadows.

Some species emerge as early as February. Can be seen from spring until late autumn.

  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec