Red-tailed bumblebee

Red-tailed bumblebee

Red-tailed bumblebee ©Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Red-tailed Bumblebee

Red-tailed Bumblebee ©Penny Frith

Red-tailed bumblebee

Scientific name: Bombus lapidarius
Living up to its name, the red-tailed bumblebee is black with a big, red 'tail'.

Species information


Length: 2.2cm

Conservation status


When to see

April to November


The red-tailed bumblebee is a very common bumblebee, emerging early in the spring and feeding on flowers right through to the autumn. It can be found in gardens, farmland, woodland edges, hedgerows and heathland: anywhere there are flowers to feed on. It is a social bee, nesting in old burrows, or under stones. As with other social insects, the queen emerges from hibernation in spring and starts the colony by laying a few eggs that hatch as workers; these workers tend the young and nest. Males emerge later and mate with new females who are prospective queens. Both the males and old queen die in the autumn, but the new queens hibernate.

How to identify

The female red-tailed bumblebee is a very large, black bumblebee with a big red 'tail'. Males are smaller and as well as the red tail some males have two yellow bands on the thorax and one at the base of the abdomen - however usually this is very faint. There are two other similar species of bumblebee, but both are much rarer.



Did you know?

Red-tailed bumblebees nest underground, often in old vole burrows, under stones, or at the base of old walls.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.