brown-belted bumble bee

(Bombus griseocollis)

Conservation Status
brown-belted bumble bee
Photo by Luciearl
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure


not listed


Brown-belted bumble bee is a very common, large, colonial, ground-nesting bumble bee. The thorax and first abdominal segment are yellow. The head and the rest of the abdomen is black.

The female (worker) bee is to 11 16 long. The upperside of the thorax is mostly covered with short yellow hairs except for a small, round, black, bare spot in the middle that is more or less fringed with short black hairs. The light colored hairs are often very pale yellow, sometimes almost white.

There are six abdominal segments. The first segment is densely covered with yellow hairs. Segment 2 has a yellow spot in the middle at the leading (anterior) edge that extends less than half way to the trailing (posterior) edge of the segment, and a brown band along the leading edge that swoops below the yellow spot. Segments 3 through 6 are entirely black and densely covered with short black hairs.

The hairs on the head are mostly black including a dense tuft of hairs at the top (vertex). 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 top of the small (lateral) ocelli are on a virtual line (supraorbital line) with the top of the compound eyes. The antennae have 12 segments. The first antenna segment is slightly shorter than than the second and third combined.

The wings and legs are black.

The queen is similar but larger.

The male (drone) is similar but has much larger eyes, 7 abdominal segments, and 13 antennae segments. The hairs on the front and back of the head are yellow. Abdominal segments 3 through 7 are black but with evident yellow hairs at the margins.




Queen: 13 16 to

Male: to ¾

Worker: to 11 16


Similar Species

  Two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus) yellow spot on abdominal segment 2 extends nearly to the posterior edge of the segment. It may be indented in the middle appearing as two connected spots or a rounded “W”. The hairs on the back of the head of the female are yellow. The eyes on the male are not larger.  

Many kinds of areas with flowers, including prairies, meadows, agricultural fields, and urban gardens.




Late March to early October




Bumble bees will sting to protect themselves or their nest. The stinger is not barbed and the bee can sting multiple times.


Life Cycle


Overwintering queens emerge from hibernation in late April. They build nests mostly underground but sometimes on the surface of the ground. The nests are usually small, with 50 or fewer individuals.


Larva Food


Larvae are fed both nectar for carbohydrates and pollen for protein.


Adult Food


Adults feed mostly on nectar but also on some pollen.


Distribution Map



4, 7, 24, 27, 29, 24, 30, 82.




Very common in eastern North America



Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies)  


Apocrita (wasps, ants and bees)  


Aculeata (ants, bees and stinging wasps)  
  Clade Anthophila  


Apoidea (apoid wasps, bees, sphecoid wasps)  


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


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


Bombini (bumble bees)  


Bombus (bumble bees)  
  Subgenus Cullumanobombus  

Several former Bombus subgenera have recently been synonymized within the subgenus Cullumanobombus. Until 2008, brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis) was classified in the subgenus Separatobombus.

Some authors separate bumble bees and orchid bees into a the subfamily Bombinae. NCBI34 follows this classification. Other authors follow Michener (2007)35 and include those groups in the subfamily Apinae with the bumble bees and honey bees.




Bombus separatus


Common Names


brown-belted 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.’”



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



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 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

Guide to MN Bumble Bees I (Females)



Guide to MN Bumble Bees II

Guide to MN Bumble Bees II (Males)

Visitor Photos

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    brown-belted bumble bee   brown-belted bumble bee  

Mike Poeppe

    brown-belted bumble bee      

Alfredo Colon

    brown-belted bumble bee   brown-belted bumble bee  

Margot Avey


It looked very large even on a sunflower!

    brown-belted bumble bee   brown-belted bumble bee  

Bill Reynolds

  A male Brown-belted Bumble Bee hanging out of a Canadian Goldenrod.   brown-belted bumble bee  
    brown-belted bumble bee   brown-belted bumble bee  

Christa Rittberg

    brown-belted bumble bee   brown-belted bumble bee  





Bombus griseocollis
USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab
  Bombus griseocollis  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Bombus griseocollis

Published on Jul 19, 2010

brown belted bumble bees - Tulsa - June 2010

  B. griseocollis
Joseph Napper

Published on Jul 18, 2015

Brown-belted bumble bee

  B. griseocollis nest
Joseph Napper

Published on Aug 4, 2016

Brown belted bumble bee

  (HD Macro) Brown-belted Bumblebee Closeup [Mini-Documentary]

Published on Nov 8, 2014

This week's video is of the brown-belted bumblebee. It is a widely distributed species which one can easily come into contact with. Just keep an eye for the brown band of hairs on the T2 segment of the abdomen. Enjoy!

  Brown-belted Bumblebee: Nature Vlog #13
Secret Nature

Published on Jun 20, 2016

Kirk Mona is a professional interpretive naturalist living in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. His video channel Secret Nature explores the sometimes hidden answers and connections that make nature fascinating.

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Visitor Sightings

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Location: Fairview Township, Cass Co.

brown-belted bumble bee  
  Mike Poeppe

Location: Houston County, MN

brown-belted bumble bee  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

brown-belted bumble bee  
  Margot Avey

Location: St. Louis Park Community Garden

It looked very large even on a sunflower!

brown-belted bumble bee  

Location: Fairview Township

brown-belted bumblebee

brown-belted bumble bee  
  Bill Reynolds

Location: Pennington Co MN

a male Brown-belted Bumble Bee hanging out of a Canadian Goldenrod.

brown-belted bumble bee  




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