Last updated on September 21st, 2023 at 11:18 am
This rather small species of bumblebee can be found in a wide range of habitats across the United Kingdom.
The heath bumblebee is characterised by its distinctive yellow collar, yellow-banded abdomen and pure white tail. It has a small, short, rounded face that’s as long as it is wide.
Apart from its smaller size and longer face, it shares a lot of visual characteristics with both the white-tailed and the garden bumblebee.
Despite its name, the heath bumblebee is just as happy in farmland, parks, gardens and wild areas.
Nesting areas include:
- Evacuated birds nests
- Garden embankments
- Crevices in man-made structures
- Tree hollows
- Old animal burrows or nests
This bee is just as happy nesting underground as it is in a sheltered location above ground as long as surrounding vegetation provides some form of protection and defence.
Heath bumblebee queens begin to leave hibernation in March and can even start a second nest in the early summer months.
Nests of heath bumblebees tend to range from 50-100 consisting predominantly of worker bumblebees.
*It’s worth noting that the heath bumblebee seems to be scarce in the eastern end of England with very few recorded sightings.
Habitat loss and predators
Sadly this species of bumblebee is at risk due to habitat loss, pesticide use and ever-encroaching urban sprawls.
Much like other similar species the heath bumblebee is parasitised by the Barbut’s cuckoo bumblebee. This involves the cuckoo bumblebee placing their young in the nest to be raised by the unware carer.
The following pose a risk as a potential predator of this species: