White-tailed bumblebee Bombus lucorum

Best time to see: mid Jan to end Dec

Key facts

A common species of bumblebee, found throughout Britain in a wide variety of habitats, including gardens

Queens are among the earliest to emerge in spring, sometimes as early as February

Often nest under garden sheds and outhouses


Queens are mainly black with two lemon yellow bands and a white tail

Workers have more yellow bands and a yellow face


Usually nest underground in a chamber approached by an entrance tunnel that can be quite long, often using old mouse nests

Colonies may be active until well into autumn and possibly even in winter

Queens emerge from hibernation in spring, build themselves up with nectar and pollen, then search for a nest-site

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© Tony Gunton