Shrill Carder Bee

Shrill Carder Bee ©Gabrielle Horup

Shrill carder bee male

Shrill carder bee male ©Rosie Earwaker

Shrill carder bee

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Scientific name: Bombus sylvarum
The shrill carder bee can be spotted flying quickly around flowers in unimproved pastures. The queens produce a loud, high-pitched buzz, hence the name. It is declining rapidly and is restricted to just a few locations.

Top facts


Length: 1.0-1.8cm

Conservation status

Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

April to September


In April and May, queen shrill carder bees emerge from hibernation and build nests out of grass and plant fibres on the ground, or slightly underneath it. in each nest, the reigning queen rears her workers in wax cells, who subsequently rear the young on pollen and nectar. Each nest supports a small colony of workers and a queen. Workers are on the wing from May to late September and males from July to late September. The queens hibernate from October to April. Sadly, the shrill carder bee is now only found in a handful of locations in the UK, including large military ranges and unimproved pastures in Somerset, Gwent, Pembrokeshire, Glamorgan, and along the Thames corridor.

What to look for

The shrill carder bee is a small bumble bee. It has distinctive markings: it is grey-green in colour, with a single black band across the thorax, two dark bands on the abdomen, and a pale orange tip to the abdomen.

Where to find

Restricted to a handful of populations in the Somerset Levels, Gwent Levels and Pembrokeshire, and along the Glamorgan coast and Thames corridor.

Did you know?

The shrill carder bee gets its name from the 'shrill' buzz that it makes, which is higher in pitch than that of other bees. The queens tend to produce a higher-pitched buzz than the males and workers.