Bumblebees

Large earth bumblebee is very fuzzy and black with 3 golden bands

Native carpenter bee with fluffy yellow thorax

Teddy bear bee on a twig

Current situation

NSW DPI is currently investigating a suspect report of a large earth bumblebee in Sydney. We need your help to report suspect sightings.

If large earth bumblebees were to establish in NSW they could increase the spread of many weed species. They can compete with honeybees for floral resources. This can negatively impact honey production for both amateur and commercial beekeepers. They also impact the natural environment by competing with nectar-gathering birds.

Large earth bumblebees can sting repeatedly; venom can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.

Bumblebees (Figure 1) can be confused with native carpenter bees (Figure 2) and teddy bear bees (Figure 3).

SEE IT? SNAP IT

If you think you see a bumblebee in NSW a photo can be sent to biosecurity@dpi.nsw.gov.au. Please include your contact information and where the bumblebee was sighted.

Large earth bumblebee

The large earth bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) is widespread in Tasmania but is not known to be present on the Australian mainland. Large earth bumblebees are an invasive exotic bee from Europe and are much larger than honeybees with a distinctive loud buzz when flying.

Characteristics:

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

Biosecurity actions

Report all sightings on mainland Australia to:

If you see bumblebees in your area, try to take a photo of the bees.

If safe to do so, capture a specimen and put it in your freezer.  Freezing euthanises specimens and preserves them if they need to be provided to an entomologist for identification.

Side by side comparison of pinned specimens of bumblebee, carpenter bee and teddy bear bee with CM for scale