Blooms for Bees

Blooms for Bees

Red-shanked Carder Bee

Bombus ruderarius

The range of this species has reduced substantially in recent years. Although similar in appearance to the more common Red-tailed Bumblebee, it has a much more rounded shape.


Queens, workers and males are black, with an orange tail which is paler than that of the Red-tailed Bumblebee.

Queens and workers have distinctive orange hairs either side of the pollen baskets on their hind legs.

Males usually have a weak grey/yellow collar and a faint grey band across the abdomen.

About the bee

– black body
– red tail
– red/orange leg hairs


– Queen: 13mm
– Worker: 11mm
– Male: 10mm

Tongue length



Usually on the surface in thick vegetation, but occasionally below ground.

Colony size

Small to medium (rarely exceeding 100 workers).

Map and flight periods

Similar species

The Red-tailed Bumblebee has shorter, smoother hair, a more elongated body shape and darker orange tail. Workers and queens have black hairs alongside their pollen baskets rather than red. Males have a yellow collar and facial hair.

Red-tailed Cuckoo Bee females are much larger with a black, shiny body visible beneath sparse hair. They have exceptionally dark, smoky wings and lack pollen baskets. Males look very much like those of the Red-shanked Carder Bee, often with similar greyish banding, but can be differentiated by their larger, box-shaped heads.


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Blooms for Bees