Small garden bumblebee

Bombus hortorum

  1. Wildlife
  2. Invertebrates
  3. Bees and wasps
  4. Small garden bumblebee


Garden bumblebees are large bees which have long tongues that allow them to visit larger flowers such as foxglove and honeysuckle. They will also use red clover, vetches and nettles for nectar and pollen. The queens emerge from hibernation from March to June. They nest underground in shallow nests, often using old small mammal nests, in colonies of up to 100 workers. These workers are found from late April and new males and females are seen from July to October.

How to identify

These are large bees with a long tongue and face. They have yellow bands at the collar, rear of the thorax and at the first segment of the abdomen and the tip of the tail is white.

Where to find it

Widespread, but generally absent from upland areas and particularly moorland.


When to find it

  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

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.

Species information

Common name
Small garden bumblebee
Latin name
Bombus hortorum
Bees and wasps
Length 20-24mm
Conservation status