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UK Nature  > Bees  > Bombus lapidarius

  • Female pictured above
  • Male pictured above

Scientific Name:   Bombus lapidarius
Common Name:   Red-tailed Bumble Bee

Bombus lapidarius, more commonly known as the Red-tailed Bumble Bee, is a very distinctive bumble bee. The queens of this common and widespread species are large and mainly black with a rusty red tail. Queens often emerge from hibernation 3 to 4 weeks later than those of the white-tailed bumble bee (Bombus lucorum) and buff-tailed bumble bee (Bombus terrestris).

Workers have a similar colour pattern to queens and appear from mid to late May. Males of this species are distinguished from queens and workers by the presence of a tuft of yellow hair on their face and a yellow band around the top of the thorax.

Commonly seen in gardens and hedgerows, the red-tailed bumble bee often nests under stones or slabs. This species is unlikely to sting unless its nest is endangered. However, red-tailed bumble bees will often fly menacingly around the heads of intruders, in an attempt to prevent damage to their nests. Confusion with the much rarer Bombus ruderarius is possible as the basic colour pattern is similar.
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