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bee Bumblebees

Identify It >   Invertebrates Section >   Bumblebees >

A frequent garden visitor, this species is also known as the Red-tailed Bumblebee
Also known as the Garden Bumblebee. Notice the long tongue in action.
Also known as the Tree Bumblebee. A newcomer to the UK - first noticed in 2001.
Also known as the Brown-banded carder bee. A species believed to be in decline.

Also known as the Buff-tailed Bumblebee. A frequent garden visitor.
Also known as the White-tailed Bumblebee. Often one of the first bees seen in spring.
A pair of White-tailed Bumblebees mating. The smaller male is on the top.
Bees pick these hitch-hikers up when they land on flowers. The mites use the bees as public transport to new locations.

Scientific name:  Bombus

Size:  Up to 25mm

Distribution:  Found throughout the U.K.

Months seen:  February to October.

Life Span:  Approximately 9 to 12 months

Habitat:  Meadows, parks, gardens, orchards and farmland.

Food:  Nectar

Special features:  There are six species of bumblebee commonly seen in UK gardens, but 25 species of bumble bee have been recorded in the U.K.  Although they are quite large insects they are relatively harmless, and will only sting if provoked.  Bumblebees make a distinctive buzzing sound as they fly.

Male bumblebees survive until late autumn and then die off with the onset of winter.  Mated females hibernate through the winter and emerge in February. Their first priority is to find food and a nest site to lay their eggs.

Bumble bees feed on pollen and nectar.  The pollen provides them with proteins and the nectar supplies them with sugar for energy.  As they feed, they perform a vital role in pollinating many plants and trees.

Bumblebees frequently nest in holes in sand banks, or in old mouse holes (which often have the added luxury of old mouse bedding).

Bumblebees are social insects, and a nest, or colony, may contain around 200 bees.  This is quite small in comparison to honey bee nests, which can have 100,000 bees.

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