Blooms for Bees

Blooms for Bees

Forest Cuckoo Bee

Bombus sylvestris

Common throughout much of the UK, although scarce in Ireland. Strongly associated with woodland, but can be found in other habitats including gardens.


Females have a broad yellow collar and a thin yellow band at the base of the abdomen. Their abdomen has a distinctive shape that curls under and ends in a white tail with black hairs at the very tip.

Males resemble females, generally with orange hairs at the tip of the tail, although they are variable – some have yellow tails and some are completely dark haired.

Forest cuckoo bee

About the bee

– broad yellow collar
– yellow hairs where thorax and abdomen meet
– white tail, with black or orange at tip


– Female: 15mm
– Male: 13mm

Tongue length

– Short


The Early Bumblebee, and possibly the Heath Bumblebee and Bilberry Bumblebee.

Map and flight periods

bombus-sylvestris map

Similar species

Field Cuckoo Bumblebee males are quite similar, but the hairs at the tip of the tail are black rather than orange.

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Blooms for Bees