Blooms for Bees

Blooms for Bees

Red-tailed Cuckoo Bee

Bombus rupestris

A large bumblebee with very dark wings, a strong build and boxy head. Relatively widespread in England, but less common in Wales and Ireland, and absent from Scotland.


Females are black with a red tail, and their shiny black body is visible through their sparse hair.

Males are similar but smaller, and can be quite variable, often having pale grey bands on the abdomen.

Red-tailed cuckoo bee

About the bee

– red/orange tail
– sparse black body hair
– very dark wings


– Female: 19mm
– Male: 14mm

Tongue length

– Short


The Red-tailed Bumblebee

Map and flight periods


Similar species

Red-tailed Bumblebee queens and workers are similar but have shorter, denser hair, paler wings, a redder tail and pollen baskets on the hind legs. Males have a yellow collar and extensive yellow facial hair.

The Red-shanked Carder Bee is smaller with denser hair and lacks the dark wings. Males are very alike but usually smaller and lack the box-shaped head.


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Blooms for Bees