Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Species Bombus fervidus - Golden Northern Bumble Bee

Golden Northern Bumble Bee - Bombus fervidus - female Which bombus, please-us? - Bombus fervidus - female Queen Bumblebee - Bombus fervidus - female Golden Northern Bumble Bee - Bombus fervidus - male Bee on Sidewalk - Bombus fervidus - 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 (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 fervidus (Golden Northern Bumble Bee)
Other Common Names
Another proposed name, the Yellow Bumble Bee, surely would apply better to a number of all yellow species
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Bombus elatus; B. consanguineus; B. sonomae -
Explanation of Names
Author: Fabricius, 1798
queen: body length 19-21 mm
male: 11-20 mm
worker: 10.5-11 mm
The face and head are mostly black and there is usually a narrow, well-defined black interalar band across the thorax between the wings. The yellow hairs of the thorax and abdomen are lemony-yellow (vs. darker golden-tan in pensylvanicus). The abdomen (back body section) is mostly bright golden yellow (on T1-T4) with black tail tip (T5-). Wings are smoky. Males can be very similar to B. pensylvanicus but are smaller, with a longer malar space, consistent contrast between yellow T4 and black T5 (T5 color is variable in pensylvanicus), no black hairs on the rear of the thorax (scutellum), less black on the sides of the thorax posteriorly - behind the wing bases, and a better-defined narrow interalar band (vs. more diffuse and often broader band in pensylvanicus). Can be confused with borealis, but in that species the facial hairs are extensively yellow. Female fervidus in the Great Basin and elsewhere in the west often lack the black interalar band in which case the scutum is entirely yellow. Females of this color variety can be confused with B. morrisoni and even faced Pyrobombus specimens, but have entirely black facial hairs including the vertex (vs. yellow vertex in morrisoni and extensive yellow facial hairs in many Pyrombombus), a long malar space, and an entirely yellow T4 (this with black hairs in morrisoni). Faded ternarius with yellow replacing the usual red tergal hairs can be confusing, but in these the black hairs on the thoracic dorsum extend far posteriorly unlike fervidus.
U. of Michigan says "...found throughout the northern part of the United States down to the northern portions of Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. Populations are most concentrated in the North Eastern part of the United States." says "Quebec and New Brunswick to Georgia, west to the Pacific Coast" with the latter comment pertaining to californicus, often considered conspecific
May to October
Likes clover (Trifolium). The Hosts section of its Discover Life species page lists known floral associations based on specimen records and images.
Life Cycle
Emerges relatively late
Has been considered to be declining but still often found, even in cities, as evidenced by the many Bugguide images. In the past very extensive collections of this species were made, likely from large clover fields, but in recent years it has usually been encountered in smaller numbers.
Internet References
29 pinned adult images plus synonyms, detailed description of queen and male, distribution, seasonality, flower records (
extensive overview including common name reference [Golden Northern Bumble Bee] (Sara Diamond, University of Michigan)
common name reference; PDF doc [Yellow Bumble Bee] (Committee on Common Names of Insects, Entomological Society of America)
color variation diagrams of workers (Natural History Musuem, UK)
taxonomic status discussion and photos of male genitalia (Natural History Museum, UK)