Blooms for Bees

Blooms for Bees

Buff-tailed bumblebee

Bombus terrestris

The Buff-tailed Bumblebee is one of the most common UK bumblebees, and the large queens are often the first to be seen in spring. Active colonies may be found in milder southern and urban areas during winter.


Queens have two dirty yellow bands and a buff-coloured tail, though this can be paler.

Workers have whiter tails, often bordered by a thin line of buff hairs.

Males appear similar to workers, but the yellow collar behind their heads reaches further around their body and they have black facial hair.

In the Channel Islands all castes have pure white tails.

About the bee

– buff/white tail
– two yellow bands
– black facial hair in males


– Queen: 18mm
– Worker: 13mm
– Male: 14mm

Tongue length

– Short (6mm)


The nest is usually underground, often in old rodent burrows.

Colony size

Colonies are large (up to around 500 workers)

Map and flight periods

bombus-terrestris distribution map

Similar species

The White-tailed Bumblebee, Cryptic Bumblebee and Northern White-tailed Bumblebee all appear similar to the Buff-tailed bumblebee, although these species have brighter yellow bands and a whiter tail. Male White-tailed and Northern White-tailed Bumblebees also have lots of yellow facial hair.

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Blooms for Bees