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UK Nature > Bees > Bombus rupestris
Common Name: Red-tailed Cuckoo Bumblebee
Scientific Name: Bombus rupestris
Bombus rupestris is one of the Cuckoo Bumblebees, so called because of their habit of finding a nest of their host species and infiltrating it. The young Bombus rupestris Queens over-winter and emerge later than their hosts the following Spring, to take over a nest of Bombus lapidarius. It is one of our largest bumble bees; the female is much larger than the male, having a length of 20 to 25 mm, while the drone usually is not more than 16 mm.
The bumblebee is mostly black, with the last abdominal segments coloured orange-red. Due to its parasitic lifestyle no workers exist. Bombus rupestris is usually found in flower-rich habitats such as meadows and along hedgerows but also in urban gardens, where this photograph was taken. It was once considered to be somewhat of a rarity, but numbers seems to be on the rise in recent years.
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