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Have you recently seen a bumblebee? Australia


February 9, 2018 Biosecurity


Bombus terrestris, the buff-tailed bumblebee or large earth bumblebee, is one of the most numerous bumblebee species in Europe. It is one of the main species used in greenhouse pollination, and so can be found in many countries and areas where it is not native, such as Tasmania.

Bombus terrestris, the buff-tailed bumblebee or large earth bumblebee, is one of the most numerous bumblebee species in Europe. It is one of the main species used in greenhouse pollination, and so can be found in many countries and areas where it is not native, such as Tasmania.

NSW DPI is currently investigating a suspect report of a Bumblebee in Sydney and needs your help to report suspect sightings and catch specimens.

The large earth bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) is widespread in Tasmania, but is not known on the Australian mainland.


  • Large, fat, hairy bee.
  • Worker bees are 8-22mm long.
  • Queen bees are up to about 25mm long.
  • Body is black with one yellow/ochre band across thorax and another across abdomen.
  • Tip of abdomen is buff or white.
  • Makes loud buzz when flying.
  • The bumbebee is substantially larger than a honeybee
  • The bumbebee is substantially larger than a honeybee

Report all sightings to 1800 084 881 immediately.

If you see bumblebees visiting flowers in your area, please try to take a photo of the bees, and if safe to do so, capture a specimen and put it in your freezer so that it can be provided to NSW DPI for identification.

Bumblebees can be confused with the native carpenter bees and teddy bear bees.

Please visit https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/farms-fishing-forestry/agriculture/land-management/health-pests-weeds-diseases/pests/invasive-animals/prohibited/large-earth-bumblebee for further images and information about the bumblebee.


What Harm Could Exotic Bumblebees Do in Australia?
2nd Edition, An Australian Native Bee Research Centre Update, 25 May 2006

Full article:


Uh-oh :frowning:️ :honeybee:
This was the case with our Franklin’s and Rusty-patched bumblebees


I don’t realise the bumblebee was so dangerous to Australia, as I am used to seeing them around a lot now in Europe.


Most bumblebees are not dangerous; it’s just that when they’ve been imported to pollinate in greenhouses, and then escape, that they upset the balance of the local bees AND may also introduce pathogens.

We have at least five different bumblebees that visit our gardens, along with ever increasing numbers of European Wool Carder, squash and mason bees. They seem to get along fine, though the Carder bees are a little territorial.


I meant dangerous, as in introduced species, not dangerous, as in killer bumblebees :wink:


I figured as much :kissing_heart: I just love talking about bumblebees.


I saw one here last year that was so big it looked like it needed a landing strip. Easily looked the size of a humming bird I saw in Los Angeles.

They took over here in a few years. Apparently they are on the top of our highest mountains and way out on the offshore islands. Compared to the honey bee, they work earlier and later in the day.

The link below gives a bit on the history etc


this link is about using them for pollination…


Can’t see this being a bad thing…they’re helpful little boogers if anything. Honeybees are obviously good at making honey but aren’t particularly good at pollination as compared to other bees. bumblebees don’t keep big colonies either and don’t overwinter a cluster in cold climates. I can’t see them creating much competition or hurting native species either. Probably nothing to worry about.


Yeah that’s what I thought with my few encounters with them overseas.
Then I read the Aussie bee link Faroe posted…


one of my life goals is to see a bumble bee one day. I’ve never seen one- but I love them dearly



You need to visit me during our raspberry season… more half the pollentors out there are one of three species … n also my Honeybees. The bubble bees start several days ahead of my Honeybees that live only 20 feet away.


First bee sting I ever got was from a bumble bee. I was about 4 years old. Our lawn was full of weeds (erm… wildflowers), and I trod on a bee unknowingly. Not very happy, but ever since, I look down when walking on grass, and I have picked up a huge amount of lost coins as a result! :smile:

My parents actually used the sting as a teaching moment, and showed me that although I was hurting, the bee died. Obviously I had a better outcome than the bee. :blush:


If you don’t have any luck in Seattle, drop in to the South Island of N.Z. on your way home. We saw lots of them on Stewart Island.


I used to think they didn’t sting until a few years ago. I was talking to a cherry grower in the Derwent Valley a few months back who told me a story. He said he also used to think they didn’t sting, and was holding one showing a tourist that they didn’t sting, and then got stung of course.

They don’t fight with honeybees here in the open whilst gathering nectar, but I noticed they take to the flowering lavender with such enthusiasm and in such numbers (half a dozen per plant), the honeybees simply moved onto something else. I was annoyed for a while but got over it.


I also thought they didn’t sting, hmmmm… I wonder where we get these ideas from?
There is some kind of “bee” here in Sicily that is black and looks blue in the sun/light reflection, about 3cm long. Never saw any bee that big in Australia.


Must be all the pasta in Sicily making them bigger! :rofl: :yum: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Dawn dawn dawn, have you seen most of the girls (and guys) here? I don’t know how some of them eat such a giant plate of pasta, plus entre and then desert… But it’s generally always fresh, in season, local food, and made with love (and eaten with love) :slight_smile: Which may be the most important thing.


Bumble bees do sting. A key difference is the sting is not barbed like a European honey bee. It is more like a wasp in the sense that they can sting without dying (at least as far as I’m aware). This being said, a bumble bee will usually only sting a human in self defence if it feels threatened, which is rare).

I’m currently on holiday in New Zealand and there are bumble bees galore here. There are your standard langstroth hives everywhere for European honey bees but I still see many more bumble bees than honey bees.

I haven’t read that link you posted @Faroe but one key risk (as far as I’m informed) with the bumble bee is that they aren’t always useful for pollination of (native?) plants. Their longer tongue/proboscis means that in some instances they can actually extract the nectar without aiding pollination, whereas native or European bees will get covered in pollen and thus aid pollination (but with the nectar gone they aren’t so attracted to the flower…so significantly reduced pollination outcomes)