Great yellow bumblebee (Bombus distinguendus)

Great yellow bumblebee (Bombus distinguendus). Photo credit: Nick Owens.


Species distribution map from
Red: records 2000-present. Yellow: pre-2000 records.*

One of the rarest British bumblebees, now restricted to machair and other flower-rich areas in the Orkneys, Scottish islands, and Caithness and Sutherland. The species appears to have a particular association with red clover. A large species, the abdomen and thorax are entirely covered with sandy-yellow hairs, with the exception of a black band across the thorax between the wing bases. One of our current projects is dedicated to Saving the Great Yellow bumblebee in Scotland - find out more here.

Great yellow bumblebee. Photo credit: Roxanne Curtis (left).

View our Great yellow bumblebee factsheet here.

Males of the Short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus) are similar, but the species is only found at Dungeness, several hundred miles from the nearest Great yellow bumblebee. The Field cuckoo bumblebee (Bombus campestris) can also appear similar, but the short face and lack of pollen baskets of this species should be distinctive. The ginger carder species (Common carder, Bombus pascuorum; Moss carder, Bombus muscorum; and Brown-banded carder, Bombus humilis) can occasionally fade to yellow and appear to show a black thoracic band, but close examination will show this to be the black cuticle showing through an absence of hairs, rather than actual black hairs as in the Great yellow bumblebee.

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* This map displays the data currently publically available on the NBN Atlas website at Data have been contributed by a range of organisations: see here for the full list.  Please note that records from the national recording body (BWARS) are not yet available on the NBN so this map may appear incomplete.

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