Blooms for Bees

Blooms for Bees

Early Bumblebee

Bombus pratorum

A small bumblebee of fluffy appearance, found throughout much of the UK, although absent from the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland. In southern regions it is common for there to be two generations in a year. Early Bumblebees fade as they age, making identification more difficult.


Queens are smaller than those of other species and are the only common bumblebee to have both yellow banding and an orange tail.
Workers resemble queens but are variable, with the central yellow band often being faint or absent.
Males are the same size as workers, but have yellow facial hair.

Early bumblebee

About the bee

– yellow bands
– orange tail
– males have yellow facial hair


– Queen: 13mm
– Worker: 10mm
– Male: 10mm

Tongue length

– Short (6.5mm)


Below ground in old rodent burrows or in vegetation on the surface. Sometimes above ground in old bird nests, tree cavities or roof spaces.

Colony size

Small (fewer than 100 workers)

Map and flight periods

bombus-pratorum map

Similar species

The Bilberry Bumblebee is of a similar size, colour and texture, but the red tail extends further up the abdomen. This species is rarer and more likely to be found in moorland habitat.

Red-tailed Bumblebee males have similar markings but are less yellow overall, with more red on their tails. Workers and queens do not have any yellow colouring.


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Blooms for Bees