the garden bumble bee

The Garden Bumblebee

Last updated on September 20th, 2023 at 08:40 pm

The Bombus hortorum, also known as the garden bumblebee, is a species of bumblebee that is native to Europe.

These bees are important pollinators for a variety of plants, including fruits and vegetables, and are known for their distinctive yellow and black striped pattern.

They’re considered as one of the ‘big 7’, one of seven species found most abundantly around the UK countryside (and even some urban areas).

Physical Characteristics

The Bombus hortorum is a medium-sized bumblebee, with a length of approximately 12-15 mm. They have a yellow and black striped pattern on their thorax with a yellow band displayed at the bottom of the abdomen.

One of their most distinguishable features is a pure white tail much like that of the white-tailed bee. The head is roughly oblong-shaped with a particularly long tongue compared to other bumble bee species.


The garden bumblebee is typically found in open and semi-open habitats such as gardens, meadows, and farmland.

You’ll also find them in wilder urban areas like large parks and moors. These bees are active during the day and are most active in warm, sunny weather.

They prefer to nest in wide open agricultural areas with hedge rows, field boundaries and uncultivated farmland. All these areas allow for the sun’s rays to heat the nest underground, helping to keep the inhabitants warm throughout the day.


The Bombus hortorum is an important pollinator for a variety of plants, including fruits and vegetables. They tend to prefer plants with deep corollae (petal depth) like foxgloves, clovers and thistles where they can make good use fo their long tounges.

They are known to be effective pollinators for crops such as:

  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Sunflowers
  • Apples

These bees are able to fly at slightly lower temperatures than other bumblebee species, making them well-suited for pollinating early-blooming crops.

Threats to Survival

The Bombus hortorum, like many other bumblebee species, is facing a decline in population due to a variety of factors.

The primary risk to this and the majority of bumble bee species is pesticide use. Whether it’s by consuming nectar that contains pesticides or simply by coming into contact with leaves and stems that have been sprayed at an earlier date.

This can have a particularly catastrophic effect if a young garden bumble bee queen is affected by pesticides, leading to a smaller, weaker colony.

Other serious risks to the garden bumblebee include


The Bombus hortorum is an important pollinator for a variety of plants and plays a critical role in maintaining biodiversity and food security.

However, human activities such as habitat loss, pesticide use, and disease are putting these bees at risk so it’s never been so important that we take steps to protect these bees, ensuring their survival for future generations.

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