Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes



Genus Bombus - Bumble Bees

Bombus affinis? - Bombus griseocollis Beautifully colored bumblebee - Bombus fervidus Bumble Bee- Orange Markings - Bombus rufocinctus Bombus sp - Bombus auricomus Bumble bee on clover - Bombus vagans Bumble Bee - Bombus californicus Bumble bee - Bombus bimaculatus Black bumble bee - Bombus vandykei - female
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)
Other Common Names
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
includes Psithyrus as a subgenus
Explanation of Names
Bombus Latreille 1802
47 spp. in 8 subgenera in our area(1), ~300 spp. in 16 subgenera total(2)
Overview of species(2)
B. kirbiellus - Golden-belted Bumble Bee

B. natvigi - High Nearctic Bumble Bee

B. polaris - Polar Bumble Bee

B. auricomus - Black and Gold Bumble Bee

B. nevadensis - Bombus nevadensis

B. affinis - Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

B. cryptarum - Cryptic Bumble Bee

B. occidentalis - Western Yellow-banded Bumble Bee

B. terricola - Yellowbanded Bumble Bee

B. fraternus - Southern Plains Bumble Bee

B. griseocollis - Brownbelted Bumble Bee

B. rufocinctus - Redbelted Bumble Bee

B. citrinus - Lemon Cuckoo Bumble Bee

B. fernaldae - Fernald Cuckoo Bumble Bee

B. insularis - Indiscriminate Cuckoo Bumble Bee

B. suckleyi - Suckleyi Bumblebee

B. variabilis - Variable Cuckoo Bumblebee

B. bimaculatus - Twospotted Bumble Bee

B. caliginosus - Fog-belt Bumble Bee

B. frigidus - Frigid Bumble Bee

B. impatiens - Common Eastern Bumble Bee

B. perplexus - Confusing Bumble Bee

B. ternarius - Tricolored Bumble Bee

B. vagans - Half-black Bumble Bee

B. vancouverensis - Vancouver Bumble Bee

B. vosnesenskii - Yellow-faced Bumble Bee

B. borealis - Boreal Bumble Bee

B. fervidus - Golden Northern Bumble Bee

B. pensylvanicus - American Bumble Bee

B. sonorus - Sonoran Bumble Bee

Pictorial guides to North American spp.(3) • IL spp.(4) • CA spp.(5)
most of the world (incl. high Arctic), but scarcer in the tropics(2); in NA, 43 spp. in the west (list), 24 in the east (list), and 18 in the south (list)(6)
for TX spp., see (7)
Generally distributed but most abundant and diverse at humid, cool sites rich in flowers, such as mountain meadows.
Mated, overwintered Queens emerge from their hibernacula in very early-late spring, depending on the species. Workers emerge in late spring-early summer after which they build in numbers, and persist until late summer-late fall depending on the species. Virgin queens and males appear in summer-fall, depending on the species, and visit flowers at that time along with foraging workers. At the end of the season workers and males die and mated queens enter their hibernacula where they remain dormant until spring. In warm areas such as southern California and south Florida bumble bees can be found flying even in mid-winter.
Life Cycle
described here
populations of B. occidentalis, B. pensylvanicus, B. affinis, and B. terricola have declined dramatically over the last decades(8)
IUCN Red List lists 15 spp. in our area as near threatened to critically endangered
See Also
bee-mimicking robber flies Laphria and Mallophora
Print References
Milliron H.E. (1971) A monograph of Western Hemisphere bumblebees (Hymenoptera: Apidae; Bombinae) I. The genera Bombus and Megabombus subgenus Bombias. Mem. Ent. Soc. Canada 82: 1‒80.
Milliron H.E. (1973a) A monograph of Western Hemisphere bumblebees (Hymenoptera: Apidae; Bombinae) II. The genus Megabombus subgenus Megabombus. Mem. Ent. Soc. Canada 89: 81‒237.
Milliron H.E. (1973b) A monograph of Western Hemisphere bumblebees (Hymenoptera: Apidae; Bombinae) III. The genus Pyrobombus subgenus Cullumanobombus. Mem. Ent. Soc. Canada 91: 239‒333.
Stephen W.P. (1957) Bumble bees of western America. Oregon State College: Agric. Exp. Sta., Tech. Bull. 40. 163 pp.
Warriner M.D. (2011) Bumblebees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) of remnant grasslands in Arkansas. J. Kans. Ent. Soc. 84: 43‒50.
Williams P.H. (1998) An annotated checklist of bumble bees with an analysis of patterns of description (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Bombini). Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. (Entomol.) 67: 79‒152.
Williams P.H., Cameron S.A., Hines H.M., Cederberg B., Rasmont P. (2008) A simplified subgeneric classification of the bumblebees (genus Bombus). Apidologie 39: 46‒74.
Internet References
Works Cited
1.Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide
Williams et al. 2014. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 208 pp.
2.Ascher J.S., Pickering J. (2017) Discover Life bee species guide and world checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila)
5.Bumble Bees and Cuckoo Bumble Bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae)
Thorp R.W., Horning D.S., Jr., Dunning L.L. 1983. Bull. Calif. Ins. Survey 23: viii+79 pp.
6.Bombus bumblebees of the world
7.Bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) of Texas: historical distributions.
Warriner, M.D. 2012. Southwestern Naturalist 57(4): 442-445.
8.Patterns of widespread decline in North American bumble bees.
Cameron et al. 2011. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 108: 662-667. .
9.Bees of the eastern United States
Mitchell T.B. 1962. Tech. Bull. (NC Agric. Exp. Sta.): No. 141 (538 pp.), 1960; and No. 152 (557 pp.).
10.Bumble Bee Watch
11.Bumble Bees of the Eastern United States
Sheila Colla, Leif Richardson, Paul Williams. 2011. USDA.
12.Bumble Bees of the Western United States
Jonathan Koch, James Strange, and Paul Williams. U.S. Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership.