White-tailed bumblebee

White-tailed bumblebee

© Derek Moore

White-tailed Bumblebee

White-tailed Bumblebee ©Penny Frith

White-tailed bumblebee

Scientific name: Bombus lucorum
Living up to its name, the white-tailed bumblebee is black-and-yellow bee with a bright white 'tail'. A social bumble bee, it can be found nesting in gardens and woods, and on farmland and heaths.

Species information


Length: up to 2cm

Conservation status


When to see

March to November


The white-tailed bumblebee is a very common bumble bee that emerges early in the spring and can be seen 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. 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 white-tailed bumblebee is black with two lemon-yellow bands on its body and a white 'tail'. There are several very similar species that can be very difficult to tell apart: the buff-tailed bumblebee, for example, has black and dull yellow bands, and a buff-coloured tail, instead of a bright white one.



Did you know?

Compared to honey bee colonies, which can number 50,000 individuals, bumble bee colonies are small, with only about 200 workers in each.