State Museum of Natural History
Biodiversity Data Centre

Bombus terrestris (Linnaeus, 1758)

  • Apis terrestris Linnaeus, 1758
  • Apis audax Harris, 1776
  • xanthopus Kriechbaumer, 1870
  • dalmatinus Dalla Torre, 1882
  • canariensis Perez, 1895
  • terrestriformis Vogt, 1911
  • lusitanicus Kruger, 1956
  • africanus Vogt in Kruger, 1956
  • maderensis Erlandsson, 1979
Vernacular Name
Large Earth Humble-bee, Buff-tailed Humble-bee, Buff-tailed bumblebee
Conservation status
No status defined
Value of species
Pollinator species
One of 17 species of the subgenus Bombus in the strict sense. One of 250 world known species of the genus Bombus, and one of 40 bumblebee species in the fauna of Ukraine. Distribution:Palaearctic Region. Indigenous distribution in central and southern Europe, north Africa, Madeira and the Canary Isles, east to Mongolia. Introductions: This species has been introduced into New Zealand (Gurr, 1957, 1995; Macfariane, Gurr, 1995), Tasmania (Stout, Goulson, 2000), Brazil (Thorp, 2003), Chile (Torretta et al., 2006), Mexico (Stout, Goulson, 2000) and Japan (Washitani, 1998; Inoue et al., 2008). It appears that it was also introduced into mainland Australia without persisting (W. Froggatt in Franklin, 1913). Recently it has spread from Chile to Argentina (Torretta et al., 2006). A very common species, with particularly large queens, a short tongue, emerging in early spring, and usually nesting below the surface of the ground (though sometimes on the surface under objects, or above the surface in cavities). Colonies are often large and can be agressive when disturbed. [[B. terrestris is common in a large part of Europe and has been successfully domesticated since 1987. Bombus terrestris is the only bumblebee species with a Mediterranean-centred distribution: the only country of the region from which it is absent is Egypt. It is not restricted to this region, however: to the north, it extends to the latitude of Stockholm and east, to the Altai but it is absent from the alpine stage, the deserts and the arid, subdesertic steppes. Bombus terrestris evolved into well differentiated subspecies (audax in British isles, canariensis in Canary Islands, sassaricus in Sardinia, xanthopus in Corsica, africanus in N. Africa, dalmatinus in the SE Europe and Near-Orient, lusitanicus in Iberian peninsula, terrestris in the remaining W. and Central Europe and in S. Scandinavia). Some of the insular subspecies are that particular that they have been considered as true species by some authors. Please remark the recent data from Azores islands (Isl. Flores, leg. P. Noger 2010), S-Iran (Shiraz, leg. N. Shagei, 2007), N-Sweden not far from the Arctic Circle (Ragvaldstrдsk, leg. E. Sjцdin, 2008). All data from Lybia are ancient (Cyrenaica, Gribodo 1925).
Book reference
  • Iren KONOVALOVA, e-mail:

Taxonomic branch