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Red-tailed Bumblebee

Bombus lapidarius


One of the "6 common bumblebees" of the UK (there are more than 6 spp of bumblebee here, but the others are much rarer). The red-tailed bumblebee lives underground in colonies ranging from sub-100 bees to over 200. I watched this one feed at this cluster of Spanish bluebells for a bit, then she landed on the leaf litter and looked to be brushing pollen off her legs. This bee species is very similar to the red-shanked carder bee, Bombus ruderarius, but distinguished by having black pollen baskets (instead of orange) and lacking a "hook" on the hind legs.


Widespread, needs flowers that can support it as it has quite a short tongue for a bee. Commonly found around walls and dried up dykes, as it is easy to burrow under these.


I watched her feed at these bluebells for a while. Guess she got covered in pollen because afterwards she spent a long time scraping it away... must be a nuisance to bees! Spotted on the University of Essex campus grounds.

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Elizabeth Colley
Elizabeth Colley 9 years ago

How exciting, isn't she beautiful! Thank you for adding your spotting LauraMaria. Please keep them coming, it's fascinating building the collection.

LucBertrand 9 years ago

Wow it is great! I had never before seen a black Bumblebee! Beware of attack of these little hairy at the University hihihi Superb serie-photos ! i add to my favorites :))

Spotted by

Colchester Borough (Essex), England, United Kingdom

Spotted on May 7, 2012
Submitted on May 8, 2012

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