Keys and general biology are found in Sladen (1912), Free & Butler (1959), Alford (1975) and Prŷs-Jones & Corbet (1991). A rather small yellow, black and white-banded bumblebee which is either expanding into habitats it was not previously found in, or has been overlooked in these areas in the past. Whilst it undoubtedly does very well on heathlands and moorlands and may be very frequent here, it is also found in calcareous grasslands, such as Salisbury Plain, coastal dunes and suburban gardens. There is a form known from the Outer Hebrides where the normally white tail is bright orange, making it look very much like B. pratorum.
This species is distributed widely throughout the entire area covered by this Atlas, although it is apparently fairly scarce in eastern England. It is widespread and often common in Europe; middle and northern latitudes of Asia, eastwards to Kamchatka (Løken, 1973).