Early bumblebee

Bombus pratorum

About

This is one of the most common bumblebee species and is found throughout the UK. It is a small bee and an important pollinator of soft fruit such as raspberries and blackberries. They also visit long, tubular flowers and open flowers, the queens are commonly seen on rhododendron flowers. They nest underground, often using old small mammal nests, or in old bird nests in tree holes or bird boxes. Colonies are small with fewer than 100 workers. As the common name suggests the queens will emerge from hibernation early in the year, between March and May depending on latitude. They may have a second generation later in the year in the south.

How to identify

These bumblebees are small with really distinctive lemon yellow bands on their thorax and abdomen and an orange tail. Some say it is the prettiest of all our bumblebees.

Where to find it

Widespread

Habitats

When to find it

  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June

How can people help

Bumblebees are a vitally important for pollinating hundreds of plant species, including many crops. But they are under threat from loss of habitat and the increasing use of pesticides and herbicides. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species, so are working closely with farmers, landowners and developers to promote wildlife-friendly practices. You can help too: encourage bees and wasps into your garden by providing nectar-rich flower borders and fruit trees. To find out more about gardening for wildlife, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

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Species information

Common name
Early bumblebee
Latin name
Bombus pratorum
Category
Invertebrates
Bees and wasps
Statistics
Length 16-18mm
Conservation status
Common