black-and-gold bumble bee

(Bombus auricomus)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

black-and-gold bumble bee

 

NatureServe

not listed

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common

Flight/Season

May to September

Habitat

Grasslands, open areas

Size

Male: to ¾ (17 to 20 mm)

Female: 11 16 to ¾ (18 to 20 mm)

Queen: ¾ to 1 (20 to 25 mm)

          Photo by Gerry Garcia
 
Identification

Black-and-gold bumble bee is common, large, colonial bumble bee. It occurs in North America east of the Rocky mountains. It is common in southern Minnesota, less common in the north. It is one of the largest bumble bees in Minnesota.

The female (worker) bee is 11 16 to ¾ (18 to 20 mm) long. The hairs on the head are mostly black. The top of the head (vertex) is densely pitted (punctate) in the middle and smooth at the sides, and there is a dense band of yellow hairs at the rear. There are two large compound eyes, one on each side of the head, and three small simple eyes (ocelli) in a triangular pattern at the top of the head between the compound eyes. The middle ocellus is larger than the the two lateral ones. The tops of the small (lateral) ocelli are distinctly below a virtual line (supraorbital line) with the top of the compound eyes. The antennae have 12 segments consisting of one basal segment (scape), one small connecting segment (pedicel), and ten more segments (flagellomeres). The scape is long, half as long as the all of the flagellomeres together. The first flagellomere is as long as the next two combined. The space below the compound eye (malar space) is smooth and shiny. The tongue is long.

The thorax has three segments and is densely covered with relatively short hairs. The first segment is yellow, the second is black, and third is black with a very narrow yellow band at the rear.

The abdomen has six segments and is densely covered with relatively short hairs. The first segment is black but may have some yellow hairs on the sides. The second and third segments are entirely yellow. Segments 4 through 6 are entirely black.

Females are variable in color. Most are as described above. On light-colored individuals, the third thoracic segment is partially or entirely yellow, and the first abdominal segment has some yellow hairs on the sides or has yellow sides with some yellow hairs in the middle.

The wings are dark brownish tinged at the base, lighter tinged approaching the tip.

The legs are black.

The queen is similar but larger.

The male (drone) is similar but has 7 abdominal segments and 13 antennae segments. The thorax is yellow with a round black spot in the center. Abdominal segments 1 through 3 are yellow. The compound eyes are large.

 
Similar
Species

 

 
Larval Food

 

 
Adult Food

 

 
Life Cycle

The queen lays eggs individually in separate cells.

 
Behavior

The colonies are small, usually having about 35 workers.

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 24, 27, 29, 30.

 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

Order:

Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies)

 

Suborder:

Apocrita (wasps, ants and bees)

 

Infraorder:

Aculeata

 

Superfamily:

Apoidea (apoid wasps, bees, sphecoid wasps)

 

Family:

Apidae (bumble bees, honey bees, and stingless bees)

 

Subfamily:

Apinae (honey, bumble, long-horned, orchid, and digger bees)

 

Tribe:

Bombini

 

Genus:

Bombus (bumble bees)

 

Subgenus:

Bombias

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

black and gold bumble bee

black-and-gold bumble bee

Bumble Bee or Bumblebee?

In common usage the word bumblebee is written at least as often as the as the term bumble bee. In scientific usage, however, there is a “correct” form. The rule is: if the second part of the term accurately reflects the organism’s identity then it should stand alone. If it does not, then it should be concatenated. In short, “If true, then two.”

The Entomological Society of America follows the convention suggested by R. E. Snodgrass, author of Anatomy of the Honey Bee, when assigning common names to insects. Snodgrass states, “If the insect is what the name implies, write the two words separately; otherwise run them together. Thus we have such names as house fly, blow fly and robber fly contrasted with dragonfly, caddisfly and butterfly, because the latter are not flies, just as an dandelion is not a lion and a silverfish is not a fish. The honey bee is an insect and is preeminently a bee; ‘honeybee’ is equivalent to ‘Johnsmith.’”

Glossary

Clypeus

On insects, a hardened plate on the face above the upper lip (labrum).

 

Malar space

In Hymenoptera, the space, equivalent to the cheek, between the bottom of the compound eye and the base of the mandible.

 

Ocellus

Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.

 

Vertex

The upper surface of an insect’s head.

 

 

Bumble Bee Identification

Elaine Evans, a PhD candidate in the Department on Entomology at the University of Minnesota, the University of MN Bee Lab, and BefriendingBumblebees.com have published a handy identification chart of Minnesota bumble bees. Handy, that is, for entomologists. Indispensable for amateur naturalists in Minnesota or anyone wanting to identify the bumble bee in their photo. Click on the images below to download the PDFs.

 

Guide to MN Bumble Bees I
(Females)

Guide to MN Bumble Bees I (Females)

 

 

Guide to MN Bumble Bees II
(Males)

Guide to MN Bumble Bees II (Males)

 

       
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Gerry Garcia
       
  black-and-gold bumble bee    
       
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  Bombus auricomus
USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab
 
  Bombus auricomus  
     

 

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Other Videos
 
  Bombus auricomus
Eric Preston
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 2, 2013

Bombus auricomus on Echinacea pallida at The Prairie Enthusiasts' Mounds View Grassland, Iowa County, Wisconsin

   
       
  B. auricomus
Joseph Napper
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 23, 2015

Black and gold bumble bee

   
       
  Bombus auricomus on Bee Balm 2018
margy stewart
 
   
 
About

Published on Jan 12, 2019

Here Black-and-Gold Bumble Bees find nectar in Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa), one of the few species of wildflower to bloom during the drought summer of 2018. Bee Balm refused to bloom this year as it usually does in the upland native prairie, but it did bloom in our Creek Field, where we have a bottomland prairie restoration going on. B. auricomus likes prairie, so I was honored that they came to our prairie restoration!

   
       
  Bombus foraging returning to nest
Karl Foord
 
   
 
About

Published on Mar 12, 2015

   
       

 

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Gerry Garcia
8/4/2019

Location: Lyndale Park, Minneapolis, MN

black-and-gold bumble bee


     
     
 
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Created: 8/20/2019

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