There are over 250 species within the Bombus genus, and it's the only extant genus within the Bombini tribe. They can vary in appearance, but are generally what we all know them to bee - cute, fluffy, and a little clumsy! In comparison to honeybees (tribe: Apini), bumblebees are generally hairier, bigger, and typically coloured with yellow, black, white and sometimes red hairs. Bumblebees are a social species, which means they live in groups ranging from 100s to the 1000s in some cases. They're organised and ruled by the queen bee, whose job it is to produce future queens for future generations. There are some exceptions to bumblebee sociality - some species are parasites. These bees live their lives alone, obtaining resources by stealing from other bees.
Bumblebees are considered one of the best pollinators for garden plants.
Bumblebees can best be identified from their location, size and most importantly, their patterning. Bees are typically stripey, and they can be split into three main groups: whitetails, redtails and black tails. Once you've got this observation, it can be much easier to whittle your bee down to a handful of species. Use the location and habitat of the bee to try and determine the species, this isn't always easy, or possible. The friends of the earth have a great ID guide used for recording the more common species, which can be found beneath the Great British Bee Count!
Bees can provide ecosystem services which are vital in sustaining a healthy environment!
It is not recommended to treat flowering garden plants where bees are present. Pesticides and herbicides can impair a bees navigation system, making it hard for them to find the hive; they can be deadly in some cases.
Attracts this pest
By planting a selection of flowers that bloom during different seasons, you can provide a reliable food resource to bees all year round!