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For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Species Bombus ternarius - Tricolored Bumble Bee

Bombus ternarius? - Bombus ternarius - female Bombus rufocinctus? or Bombus melanopygus? - Bombus ternarius - female Bombus tenarius? - Bombus ternarius - female Give A Wave - Bombus ternarius - male Bumble Bee - Bombus ternarius - male Small Bumblebee - Bombus ternarius - female Bombus - Bombus ternarius - male
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 (Apoidea (clade Anthophila) - Bees)
Family Apidae (Cuckoo, Carpenter, Digger, Bumble, and Honey Bees)
Subfamily Apinae (Honey, Bumble, Longhorn, Orchid, and Digger Bees)
Tribe Bombini (Bumble Bees)
Genus Bombus (Bumble Bees)
No Taxon (Subgenus Pyrobombus)
Species ternarius (Tricolored Bumble Bee)
Other Common Names
Orange-belted Bumble Bee
Red-tailed Bumble Bee (not recommended, as it also refers to Bombus lapidarius, a Eurasian species)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Bombus ornatus
Explanation of Names
ternarius refers to the number 3 - in this case, the bee's 3 colors (red, yellow, black), and is the basis of the common name Tricolored Bumble Bee approved by the Entomological Society of America's Committee on the Common Names of Insects
queen: body length 17-19 mm
male: 9.5-13 mm
worker: 8-13 mm
First abdominal segment with yellow hair, segments 2 & 3 reddish-orange, segments 5 and 6 and facial hairs black
see detailed description of queen and male at
Tongue length rather short but malar space noticeably longer than in B. rufocinctus. Black facial hairs separate females from B. huntii which has very extensive yellow hairs on the face. Males have more black hairs on the tibia than in B. huntii.
Yukon to Nova Scotia, south to Georgia; widespread in the United States but rarely observed south of Pennsylvania
Often associated with extensive stands of goldenrod in open woodlands and meadows.
May to October
Workers and males are most often found visiting composites (Asteraceae). The Hosts section of its Discover Life species page lists known associations based on specimen records and images.
Internet References
26 pinned adult images plus detailed description of queen and male, distribution, seasonality, flower records (
common name reference; PDF doc [Tricolored Bumble Bee] (Committee on Common Names of Insects, Entomological Society of America)
link to photos of male genitalia (Natural History Museum, UK)
biology and behavior plus common name reference [Orange-belted Bumble Bee] (U. of Maine)
live adult image and common name reference [Red-tailed Bumble Bee] (David Cappaert,