Red-tailed Bumblebee

Bombus lapidarius

  1. Wildlife
  2. Invertebrates
  3. Bees and wasps
  4. Red-tailed Bumblebee


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. 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, have two yellow bands on the thorax and one at the base of the abdomen. There are two other similar species of bumblebee but these are much rarer.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November

How can people help

Bumblebees are a vitally important for pollinating hundreds of plant species, including many crops. But they are under threat from loss of habitat and the increasing use of pesticides and herbicides. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species, so are working closely with farmers, landowners and developers to promote wildlife-friendly practices. You can help too: encourage bees and wasps into your garden by providing nectar-rich flower borders and fruit trees. To find out more about gardening for wildlife, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Red-tailed Bumblebee
Latin name
Bombus lapidarius
Bees and wasps
Length: 2.3cm
Conservation status