Subject: European Bumblebee
Location: Belgrade, Serbia
May 23, 2012 3:26 pm
I am trying to distinguish this bee: Is it a white-tailed bumblebee or a buff-tailed bumblebee? I photographed it in my driveway last weekend in Belgrade, Serbia.
Signature: Bill Kralovec
Thanks for sending in your request. Bumblebee.org indicates: “The queens Bombus terrestris and B. lucorum are usually the first to emerge in the spring. B. terrestris queens are the largest bumblebees we have in the UK. It is fairly easy to differentiate between B. terrestris and B. lucorum queens – the yellow thorax hairs of terrestris are more dull orangey while those of lucorum are more lemony [.] B. terrestris has a brownish orange tip to her abdomen while B. lucorum’s is white – hence the common names.” Bumblebee.org also indicates: “The workers of both species look like smaller versions of the lucorum queen. See the worker on the left. They are almost impossible to tell apart without dissection. The size range can vary quite a lot, but usually the smaller workers are from the earliest laid eggs. Bombus lucorum workers range from 0.04 – 0.32 g and the queens from 0.46 – 0.70 g; B. terrestris workers range from 0.05 g – 0.40 g.” Our guess is that this is a queen White-Tailed Bumble Bee. We are basing that on the information provided on the website we cited. The early emergence and large size would indicate the bee is a queen. Though many internet references use a single word Bumblebee, we are following the naming convention used on BugGuide.