North American Bumblebees, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Related pages N. American cuckoo bumblebees - Is it a bumblebee? - Looks like a bumblebee - Other bees1, 2

I have quoted the tongue lengths as this can determine which flowers the bumblebee will gather nectar from, for more see the tongue page. I have also quoted body lengths in millimetres. This information comes from a number sources, and really should be used as a rough guide. Early workers can be much smaller than later workers, also the methods used for measuring vary - some sources use dead bees and others live bees.

Bombus rufocinctus

Bombus rufocinctus Bombus rufocinctusBombus rufocinctus

Range: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, west to British Columbia, south to California, Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Maine, Mexico. It is generally found foraging close to woods, parks and gardens. Favourite flowers include, clovers, thistles, cosmos, rudbekia, dandelions, goldenrod, asters. Nest are found on the surface or above ground. Queens are seen from May, Workers from June and males from July.
A fairly common species. This is a short-tongued species, with a variable hair colour as you can see from the drawings above. The hair is short and even. Body lengths in mm, queen 17 - 18, worker 9 - 13, male 11 - 15.

Bombus caliginosus

Bombus caliginosus
Range: Washington, Oregon, and coastal areas in California. Uncommon. Favourite flowers include, thistles, lupins, brooms, sunflowers and phcelia.
A medium to long tongue species.
Body lengths, Queen 16 - 18 mm, Worker 11 - 13 mm, Male 11 - 13 mm. Queens are seen from April, workers and males from July.
Hair can be shaggy.
Nests under and above ground.

Bombus bifarius nearticus, Bombus bifarius bifarius, Two-form bumblebee

Bombus bifarius nearticus Bombus bifarius bifariusBombus bifarius**

Range: Alaska to Yukon south to California and Utah. A very common species. Found in desert, tundra, taiga, great plains on open grassy areas. Also found in parks gardens chaparral and shrubby areas as well as mountain meadows. Favourite flowers include, goldenrod, geraniums, lupins, asters, ragwort, thistle and sweet clover. Nests are usually underground, but occasionally can be found on the surface.
Medium length tongue. Body lengths queen 15 - 19, worker 8 - 14, male 8 - 13 mm. Hair is short - medium and even. Queens are seen from mid March, workers from April and males from July.

Bombus balteatus

Bombus balteatus

Range: Arctic Alaska and Canada, Sierra Nevada and White Mountains, Truchas Peak in New Mexico, also in Arctic Europe and Asia. Found in mountains, tundra and taiga in open areas usually above the tree line. This species is now considered rare. Favourite flowers includes, thistles, clovers, roses, willowherb, asters, geraniums, penstemons and prarie-fire.
Long tongued species. Body lengths, queen 19 - 21, worker 11 - 19, male 13 - 17 mm. Queens are seen from June, workers and males from July. Hair is long and even. Nests underground.

Bombus polaris polaris

Bombus polaris polaris

Range: Arctic Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Arctic Eurasia, in tundra and taiga.
Medium tongue length. Hair is long and uneven. Body lengths, queen 18 - 22, worker 10 - 16, male 14 - 16 mm. Nests underground.

Bombus edwardsii

Bombus edwardsii

Range: Oregon, California, Nevada

Bombus melanopygus, Black-tailed bumblebee

Bombus melanopygus

Range: Alaska south to California, Idaho, Colorado, in open grassy areas, parks, gardens, chaparral, and mountain meadows. Common. Favourite flowers include, lupins, clovers, currants, ragwort, penstemon, thistles, dandelions, willow catkins.
Medium tongue length. Hair short-medium and uneven. Nests both under and above ground. Queens tend to start their nests relatively early and can be seen from mid March, workers from April and males from mid May.
Body lengths in mm, queen 16 - 19, worker 10 - 16, male 11 - 14.

*Images taken from the excellent book Bumblebees, published by Pelagic Publishing.
**Images taken from the wonderful