lemon cuckoo bumble bee

(Bombus citrinus)

Conservation Status
lemon cuckoo bumble bee
Photo by Wayne Rasmussen
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N4N5 - Apparently Secure to Secure


not listed


Lemon cuckoo bumble bee is a common, small, cuckoo bumble bee. The female has a black spot on the thorax and an entirely black abdomen. The male also has a black spot on the thorax but the first three abdominal segments are yellow.

The female (worker) bee is to 13 16 in total length and ¼ to wide at the abdomen. The head is covered with copious long, erect, black hairs. In the area between the large compound eyes (vertex) these are interspersed with short yellowish hairs. The hairs on the back of the head are yellow. The space between the lateral simple eyes (ocelli) and the margin of the vertex is two times that between the ocelli and the compound eyes. The first and third antennal segments are considerably longer than the second, which is slightly shorter than wide. The thorax is covered with dense, copious, yellow hairs except for a black spot in the center. The black spot is more or less bare and does not reach the base of the wings. The abdomen is entirely black, and is densely covered with short, erect, black hairs. The legs are mostly covered with black hairs except for pale hairs on the last foot (tarsal) segments, which have pale hairs. There is no pollen basket (corbicula).

The male bee is smaller, ½ to in total length and 3 16 to ½ wide at the abdomen. The first three segments of the abdomen are yellow, covered with dense, erect, yellow hairs.




Male: ½ to

Female: to 13 16


Similar Species






May to October




The lemon cuckoo bumble bee has no pollen baskets and does not collect pollen. It invades the nests of mostly common eastern bumble bee but also half-black bumble bee and two-spotted bumble bee. It kills the queen and usurps the colony and its worker bees.


Life Cycle




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



7, 24, 29, 30.







Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies)  


Apocrita (narrow-waisted wasps, ants, and bees)  


Aculeata (ants, bees, and stinging wasps)  


Apoidea (bees and apoid wasps)  
  Epifamily Anthophila (bees)  


Apidae (honey bees, bumble bees, and allies)  


Apinae (apine bees)  


Bombini (bumble bees)  


Bombus (bumble bees)  
  Subgenus Psithyrus  

In the not-too-distant past, bumble bees were often placed in the in the subfamily Bombinae, and sometimes in the family Bombidae. Today, both of these terms are considered taxonomically invalid, though they can still be found in use on the Web.






Common Names


lemon cuckoo bumble bee









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



On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.



The upper surface of an insect’s head between the compound eyes.



Minnesota Bumble Bee Identification Guide

The University of MN Bee Lab has a free field identification guide to Minnesota bumble bees. It is indispensable for amateur naturalists or anyone wanting to identify the bumble bee in their photo. Click on the image below to download the guide.

Guide to MN Bumble Bees

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Wayne Rasmussen


Male lemon cuckoo bumble bee on butterfly milkweed

    lemon cuckoo bumble bee      
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos





Bombus citrinus
  Bombus citrinus  
Bombus citrinus
USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab
  Bombus citrinus  



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Other Videos
  B. citrinus
Joseph Napper

Published on Aug 27, 2015

The Lemon Cuckoo Bumble Bee




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  Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Joy Park

lemon cuckoo bumble bee  
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