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Species Bombus pensylvanicus - American Bumble Bee

Which bombus, please-us? - Bombus pensylvanicus - female bumble bee - Bombus pensylvanicus - male American Bumble Bee - Bombus pensylvanicus Bombus pensylvanicus American Bumble Bee - Bombus pensylvanicus bee on Verbena - Bombus pensylvanicus Unknown Bee - Bombus pensylvanicus Bee on Hosta - Bombus pensylvanicus
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
No Taxon (Anthophila (Apoidea) - Bees)
Family Apidae (Cuckoo, Carpenter, Digger, Bumble, and Honey Bees)
Subfamily Apinae (Honey, Bumble, Long-horned, Orchid, and Digger Bees)
Tribe Bombini (Bumble Bees)
Genus Bombus (Bumble Bees)
No Taxon (Subgenus Thoracobombus)
Species pensylvanicus (American Bumble Bee)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Bombus pensylvanicus (De Geer)
Orig. Comb: Apis pensylvanicus De Geer, 1773
Bombus pennsylvanicus is an unjustified emendation of the original spelling of the species name; see Natural History Museum website for a thorough discussion of orthography of the original combination and of nomenclatural history for this species.
Size
Large:
Queen 21 - 25 mm
Worker 14 - 18 mm
Male 16 - 22 mm
Identification

In typical females the thoracic dorsum is yellow anteriorly and black posteriorly and the first three tergal segments are yellow contrasting with black distal segments. The malar space is long and the legs gangly. B. auricomus has a similar color pattern but often has conspicuous yellow hairs on the vertex (vs. black in pensylvanicus), a (variable) patch of yellow on the thoracic dorsum posteriorly (in pensylvanicus these hairs black or a more diffuse admixture of black and yellow), ocelli lower on the face (vs. high in pensylvanicus) and with more extensive black hairs on T1 so the abdomen appears somewhat banded (vs. dorsal surface of T1 consistently yellow in pensylvanicus). Males can be extremely similar to B. fervidus, as they often have extensive yellow on the thoracic dorsum posteriorly, but the interalar band is broader and more diffuse, the sides of the thorax are usually more extensively black posteriously, and the abdomen may be pale-tipped (variable). B.pensylvanicus averages larger but has a shorter malar space. The most extensively yellow B. pensylvanicus females can also be confused with B. fervidus but T4 is black in the former and yellow in the latter.

See detailed description of queen and male at discoverlife.org.
Range
Eastern North America, from Quebec to Florida west to Colorado, Texas and locally to New Mexico; the closely related sonorus, often classified as a subspecies, occurs in the southwestern United States west to coastal California.
TX-FL-MD-CO / Ont (BG data)
Habitat
Associated with large fields
Season
Late emerging. Mostly: May-Oct (BG data)
Food
Likes clover (Trifolium) and sunflowers ([i]Helianthus/i]). The Hosts section of its Discover Life species page lists known floral associations based on specimen records and images.
Remarks
Has declined severely at the northern margin of its range, where now absent from or at best very rare at many historical localities, but still routinely found in its core range to the south as evidenced by the many Bugguide images.

Despite its name this species is not our most widespread species, as it is now rarely encountered in the northern portion of its historical range.
Print References
Warriner, M.D. 2011. Bumblebees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) of remnant grasslands in Arkansas. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 84(1): 43-50.
Internet References
common name reference; PDF doc (Committee on Common Names of Insects, Entomological Society of America)
Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire des insectes. Tome/Volume 3, p.575    The original description of the species (in French)