Tree Bumble Bee

The Tree bumblebee is quite distinguishable due to its colouring – ginger to the reddish-brown thorax with a black abdomen, the tail always white.

It can reach places other bees do not favour and have become ever more present in the UK in recent years, first discovered here in 2001. However, a lot is still being learned about this bee.

Tree Bumble BeeTree bumblebee nests are built above ground, preferably at height, and, as the name suggests, in trees. Bird boxes are often used, and these bees have been known to evict nesting birds to use one. They appear to like living near us humans, and there have been cases of their nests being made in tumble dryer vents – they want the fluff that can accumulate there.

The tree bumblebee feeds on various plants and flowers, such as rhododendron, fuchsia and pussy willow. In addition, it is an essential pollinator of raspberry and bramble.

Mostly seen from March to July, this is one of the first bees of the season. It has also been known in perfect summers to have a second batch of offspring later in the year. However, some colonies die out early as they are prime prey for caterpillars.

A generally docile bee, happily inhabiting human space, will sting if provoked or perceive the risk to the nest. They are especially alerted to the vibration of the nest – so be careful not to disturb one!