Other Common Names
Although the common name Confusing Bumble Bee has been applied to this species, that name is surely most appropriate for Bombus confusus Schenck of Europe (comment by John Ascher to justify use here of Perplexing Bumble Bee as the common name for this species).
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Explanation of Names
Bombus perplexus Cresson 1863
the color variants of this bee are easily confused with other species
queen: body length 17-21 mm
male: 13-14 mm
worker: 12-14 mm
see detailed description of queen, male, worker at discoverlife.org
Tongue length: medium
The hue of the coat averages more golden than in other species. Darker females are recognized by contrast between golden-yellow hairs on the thoracic dorsum and extensively black hairs on the thoracic venter (other similar species can have similar black hairs ventrally but not the entire ventral half or third of the thorax). In perplexus the hairs of the scutum are usually entirely yellow medially whereas in sandersoni and vagans there are usually conspicuous black hairs present medially (requires a close look). The malar space is not very long, as in sandersoni but clearly shorter than in vagans and bimaculatus.
Most males are readily recognized by golden-yellow hairs on T2-T3 but some have T3 extensively black and are closer to vagans (in perplexus the hind tibia is notably shiny).
In the Appalachians many perplexus are more extensively yellow. In these the thoacic hairs may be generally yellow, even ventrally, and in this respect they resemble vagans and in sandersoni, but these also tend to have extensive yellow hairs on T3 (as in males) and are therefore distinctive. Males of this yellow color form are so yellow that they have been confused with fervidus, but they lack an interalar band,and are smaller and more compact with a shorter face and shorter legs.
Alaska to Maine, south in mountains to Georgia
Includes woodlands, orchards, and ericaceous bogs
Queens often visit blueberries and apples. The Hosts section of its Discover Life species page
lists known associations based on specimen records and images.
26 pinned adult images
plus detailed description of queen, worker, male, distribution, seasonality, flower records (discoverlife.org)
common name reference; PDF doc
(Committee on Common Names of Insects, Entomological Society of America)