lsm57's picture

Queen buff-tailed bumblebee - perhaps?

Observed: 2nd July 2008 By: lsm57
S159 Neighbourhood Nature - course complete
lsm57’s reputation in Invertebrateslsm57’s reputation in Invertebrates
buff tailed queen bumblebee

Very large bumblebee, with two yellow bands, feeding on foxglove flowers. I am not certain about this ID - I would be grateful for feedback as to what ID features to look out for.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Buff-Tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus (Bombus) terrestris) interacts


Martin Harvey's picture


As usual with bumblebees I'm struggling to be certain of the identification - I think you're probably correct that it is a queen B. terrestris, but since I can't see the antennae or the hind leg clearly, and since the 'tail' looks almost orange rather than buff, I not absolutely sure - hopefully others will comment as well.

I think your photo shows this bee in the act of 'robbing' nectar from the Foxglove. Not all bumblebees have tongues that are long enough to reach the nectar from Foxglove flowers byt the usual route of entering the mouth of the flower (and thus helping to pollinate it), so instead some species have taken to chewing through the base of the flower and getting at the nectar while by-passing the pollen. The flower to the right of your bee seems to have had such a hole chewed in it as well.

Entomologist and biological recorder

Urophora's picture

If the colours are true, this

If the colours are true, this looks more like B. pratorum. That has a yellower collar and more orange tail than terrestris. I would not stake my life on the ID, but if pushed would go for pratorum.

lsm57's picture

Thanks for the feedback - it

Thanks for the feedback - it seems that identifying bumblebees is even trickier than I thought!
The comments about 'robbing' nectar was fascinating - I shall be on the look out for this once spring/summer finally arrives.

lsm57's picture

This was a very large

This was a very large bumblebee, which makes me veer towards it being B. terrestris, rather than the much smaller B. pratorum. I agree the tail does look rather orange, though!