The buff-tailed bumble-bee is the first bumble to emerge each spring and it will have been around for a few weeks before next common bumble-bee on the wing, the large red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius), emerges in late March. At first we see the queens; large, slow moving bees with a preference for yellow flowers. Later in the summer we will see female worker bees that are the same markings but much smaller.
The queens hibernate for the winter and their first job when they emerge is to stock up on food and they can immerse themselves in a flower head consuming nectar almost oblivious to the presence of anything, including a camera lens! They nest under ground or in wall cavities and that will be the queens next task, to find a suitable nest site.
Quite distinctive markings, almost totally black with a red tail-end, but there is a small red-tailed bumblebee as well which is much less common, flies later in the summer and is a more orange colour in the tail. They are, however, still very difficult to tell from the male large-tailed which is not very big at all!