Bombus barbutellus
(Barbut’s cuckoo bee)

Barbut’s cuckoo bee - Bombus barbutellus - male.Barbut’s cuckoo bee - Bombus barbutellus - male.

Bombus barbutellus (Barbut’s cuckoo bee) is a cuckoo species, and the target host is Bombus hortorum.

There is some variation in appearance.

In females, the tail is white and there are two yellow stripes on the thorax and one on the abdomen. 

Pictured above is a male – facial hairs on males are black.  However, there is some variation and some individuals can be very dark or almost black.


As with other cuckoo species, there are no workers.   Unlike female social species of bumblebee, female cuckoos do not have corbicula (pollen baskets).


Life cycle

Females can be seen from April – May, searching for the nests of hosts which will already have emerged from hibernation.  They may be seen exploring holes in banks or around rough patches of vegetation.  Males may be seen in June and July up to August.

Foraging Behaviour

Bombus barbutellus may be seen on a wide variety of flowers, including white deadnettle, vetches, creeping thistle, bramble, knapweed, lavender and honeysuckle.

Read more about bumblebees

Read about British bumblebees

Download bee identification charts.

Go back to home page

You might like these

  • Do Bumble Bees Make Honey?

    Bumble bees store nectar in little wax pots for feeding the colony as it grows, but it is not really quite the same thing as honey made by honey bees.

  • The Bumble Bee Life Cycle

    The bumble bee life cycle starts with an impregnated queen when she emerges from her nest from her winter snooze. She feeds and seeks a suitable place to nest.

  • Should Bumble Bee Be Written As One Word Or Two?

    A look at the rationale for writing bumble bee as two words rather than one (bumble bee instead of bumblebee).