Bumble Bee Varieties

Written by jennifer lynn
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Bumble Bee Varieties
Bumble bees can be seen in flower gardens beginning in early spring. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If you have spent time around a flower garden, you have probably seen bumble bees buzzing around blooms. These large bees are pollinators that range in size from 3/4 to 1 1/2 inch. They are known for their hairy or fuzzy appearance, and yellow and black bodies. However, colour variations of bumble bees include red, brown and orange with black or solid black. Though there are more than 250 species found worldwide; some varieties are more common than others.

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White-Tailed Bumble Bee

The white-tailed bumble bee is one of the most common species found in gardens and around patches of flowers. They have vibrant yellow stripes and bright white areas at the end or tail of their abdomens. Though similar to the buff-tailed bumble bee, the white-tailed bumble bee is smaller and has more vivid colouration. However, the worker bee of the species is less vibrant.

Buff-Tailed Bumble Bee

This species of bumble bee is similar to the white-tailed bumble bee, but has colours that are duller. Buff-coloured sections on their bodies give them their name, as well as a drab or dirty appearance. The buff-tailed bumble bee is one of the largest species of bumble bees, and can be seen pollinating flowers early in the springtime. The worker bees of the species look very similar to worker white-tailed bumble bees.

Garden Bumble Bee

The garden bumble bee has a body that is narrower than most other species. This variety of bumble bee also has a long head and tongue, and is drawn to deep flowers such as honeysuckle and foxglove. Its colouration is dull yellow with two bands on the thorax. The garden bumble bee worker looks very similar to the queen, though it is smaller in size.

Bumble Bee Varieties
Most species of bumble bees are black and yellow in colour. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Red-Tailed Bumble Bee

As the name suggests, the red-tailed bumble bee is known for its bright orange or red tail and black abdomen. This common garden dweller is long but not a very large bumble bee. The worker is smaller but similar in appearance to the queen. However, the male red-tailed bumble bee is recognised for yellow colouring around its head and face.

Common Carder Bee

This species is often not recognised as a bumble bee because of its brown colouration. However, the common carder bee is prevalent in flower gardens around the world. This bumble bee is primarily brown with dull black markings. As it ages, it often appears beige in colour. The male and worker carder bees look like the queen bees, only smaller in size.

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