top of page

Bumble bee


Bumble bees are insects from the long-tongued bee family. They are diurnal, which means they mostly come out in the day. They can crawl, but not fly, at night.

A male bee is called a drone. A female bee is called a worker, with the exception of a queen bee. A baby bee is called a larva. A group of bees is called a colony, unless it is in motion when it is a swarm, or is in its home when it is a hive.


In the UK, bumble bees are found across urban and rural areas - wherever they can find flowers to feed on.

Bumble bees live in colonies of around 50-400 in nests, chosen and built entirely by the queen bee often in tree holes, thick grass or abandoned burrows. Other than queens, bumble bees only live for around four weeks. They all die off before the winter, except for the young queens who search for somewhere to hibernate, usually underground in loose soil, banks of earth and even occasionally flowerpots.

What does it need?

Bumble bees need pollen and nectar, so like flowers that produce lots of those which are easy to access. In The UP Garden's wildflower patch, bees love our blue and maroon borage, pink corn cockles, red poppies, blue cornflowers, yellow corn marigolds, purple fiddlenecks, and white ox-eye daisies.

Three species of bumble bee have gone extinct, leaving 24, but eight of those are listed as in danger. Make your green spaces more bee-friendly!

What needs it?

Various insects, moths or small rodents eat bumble bee eggs or larvae, whilst spiders and birds eat foraging bumble bees.

Bumble bees only make enough honey to see their colony through a couple of days of bad weather (unlike honeybees), but they do provide a crucial role in pollinating wildflowers and crops. Some like tomatoes, peppers, and cranberries rely on bumble bees due to their particular ability of buzz pollination.

Fun fact!

Bumble bees usually carry pollen and nectar equal to around 25% of their body weight, but some fly back carrying as much as 75% or more! They flap their wings front to back and simultaneously rotate them like a figure of 8 about 200 times per second and, although they usually travel at about 10kph, they have been seen as fast as 52kph! Bumble bees are quite the athletes!

See a video here, and learn more here!

bottom of page