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

Subgenus Bombus

Bombus for ID - Bombus occidentalis Bumble Bee - Bombus terricola Rusty-patched Bumble Bee, head - Bombus affinis Bombus terricola? - Bombus terricola - male Bombus terricola? - Bombus terricola I think I got a Rusty-patched! - Bombus affinis Bee with Patch - Bombus terricola - female a bumble bee with three yellow bands - Bombus
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, Longhorn, Orchid, and Digger Bees)
Tribe Bombini (Bumble Bees)
Genus Bombus (Bumble Bees)
No Taxon Subgenus Bombus
6 spp. (of which 2 non-native) in our area, 12 spp. total(1)
Head and malar space short. Midleg with rounded angle.
A holarctic group; in our area B. terricola is widespread in Canada and the northeastern USA, B. occidentalis is in western Canada and the western half of the USA, B. franklini has a very narrow historic range in southern Oregon and northern California (with no records since 2006), and B. affinis occurs in the e. half of the US and adjacent southeastern Canada; B. cryptarum is found in Alaska and western Canada(1)
Forest-edge, mountain meadow, and grassland(2)
Life Cycle
Nests underground; colonies can be large(2)
Abrupt and severe declines of bumble bee species in this subgenus were widely reported soon after development of the commercial bumble bee industry and detection of high rates of parasitism in managed colonies. These abrupt losses occurred in the absence of any apparent loss or modification of habitats and are unlikely to be due to pesticides as other bumble bee species, e.g. members of subgenus Pyrobombus, remain abundant at the same sites.

Of greatest concern is loss of Bombus franklini, narrowly endemic to southern Oregon and northern California and not seen since 2006 despite resurveys by bombus specialist Robbin Thorp. Loss of B. affinis from much of its range, in eastern North America, is also very troubling.

A neglected aspect of these declines is loss of the cuckoo bumble bees B. ashtoni and B. suckleyi. These depend on Bombus (Bombus) as hosts and have also severely declined as evidenced by lack of any photos of live individuals on Bugguide.

Recent attention given to local pathogen spillover from particular greenhouses has diverted attention away from the possibility of a broad-scale epizootic.