Identifying bumblebees

Research at the Natural History Museum has developed a new way of identifying bumblebee species.

There are around 250 species of bumblebee in the world but identification difficulties have lead to nearly 3000 different names.

Regions of a bumblebee to help with identification

Colour pattern key used for identification

Bumblebees are identified by their varied colour patterns, which can sometimes lead to inconsistency. A more effective method is to record colour pattern by predefined body regions, which avoids these errors.  

An updated record of world bumblebee species, along with an identification guide is currently under development.

The guide will be useful for both commercial rearing of bumblebees and ecosystem conservation.



Bumblebee identification guide

Entomology project staff: