ZooSoc Takeover: Learn your A, Bee, Cs

Red Tailed Bees

5. Is more than half of the bees abdomen red, or just the tail?

  • Half the abdomen – Bombus monticola – the mountain bumblebee – see Figure 5.
  • Just the tail – go to question 6.
Figure 5: Bombus monticola. Image credit: David W. Williams, BWARS.
  1. Is the bee jet black in colour, except for the red tail?
  • Yes – go to question 7.
  • No – go to question 8.
  1. Does the bee have black or red hairs on its hind legs?
  • Black hairs – Bombus lapidarius – red-tailed Bumblebee – see Figure 6.
  • Red hairs – Bombus ruderarius – red-shanked Bumblebee – see Figure 7.
Figure 6: Bombus lapidarius. Note: males of the species often have yellow hairs on the thorax and face. Image credit: Barney Livingston, via Wikimedia Commons.
Figure 7: Bombus ruderarius. Note: the fine red hairs on the hind leg. Image credit: Jeremy Early, BWARS.
  1. Does the bee have 1 yellow band on its thorax, or 2 grey bands?
  • 1 yellow band – Bombus pratorum – early bumblebee – see Figure 8.
  • 2 clear bands – Bombus sylvarum – shrill carder bee – see Figure 9.
Figure 8: Bombus pratorum. Note: males of the species will have yellow hairs on their faces. Image credit: Nick Owens, BWARS.
Figure 9: Bombus sylvarum. Note: this is a rare species, please photograph if found and submit your result to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Image credit: Unattributed, BWARS.

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