Bombus Lapidarius

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Bombus Lapidarius

Common name :  Red-Tailed Bumble bee

Latin:  Bombus lapidarius     Family:  Bombus

  1. Flight period: Mid Feb – Oct
  2. Size:17mm queen, 12mm worker & male
  3. Nesting habits: underground
  4. Status : widespread in Ireland- near threatened
  5. Biodata Link: External Link To Biodata


Location:  Wicklow, Greystones South Beach , my Backgarden Meadow, Farrankelly, Kilcoole Road.

Note:  Near Threatened due to intensive agriculture.

Wildlife Notes: Seen on Dandelion*,Kidney Vetch*, Teasel*,Common Bird’s-foot -trefoil*,Sallows-Willow, Smooth Sowthistle*, Cats Ear*,Hawkbit*, Creeping Buttercup,

  • all flowers I have recorded this species on in Wicklow


I remember catching this bumblebee in Portmarnock when I was a child I understood they were a king bee for some reason and the black and yellow bees with white tails were the Queens. Mum Mum give me a jam jar !!! Jam jars were all washed and the kids would run out on mass collecting bees. You would put holes in the cap so they could breath and add a few flowers in and watch them eat. Sometimes if you were brave you would let them crawl up your arm which I did but I got stung  so didn’t do that again. In my teenage years I forgot bees and bumble bees, busy with my own Kings and Queens ! But, as with many things in life, one returns to the river and the river is older then you and has seen so much more.- Eoin Llewellyn

Bombus lapidarius is a species of bumblebee in the subgenus Melanobombus. Commonly known as the red-tailed bumblebeeB. lapidarius can be found throughout much of Central Europe. Known for its distinctive black and red body, this social bee is important in pollination.

The red-tailed bumblebee is typically distinguished by its black body with red markings around the abdomen. Worker females and the queen look similar, except the queen is much larger than the worker females. Males typically have both the red and black coloration along with a yellow band around the abdomen and yellow markings on the face. Further, B. lapidarius tend to have a medium-sized proboscis, which is significant in that it allows the species to be a good pollinator. These bees do not typically form extensive or complex colonies. Nests usually only contain a few hundred bees, at most. An average colony consists of about 100 to 200 worker bees.

Distribution and habitat

Bombus lapidarius is often found throughout Europe, including Britain and Ireland as well as parts of Greece, Germany, Sweden and Finland. This species typically has a fairly wide distribution. As described in the foraging patterns section, they can fly over 1500 meters to better forage for food. They typically are found in temperate regions. Further, colonies are often found in open terrain.

B. lapidarius nests have been found in many different habitats, but the bees typically prefer open terrain as opposed to more heavily forested landscapes.

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