tricolored bumble bee

(Bombus ternarius)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

tricolored bumble bee

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common

Flight/Season

May to October

Habitat

Various

Size

Queen: to ¾

Male: to ½

Worker: 5 16 to ½

         
         

Identification

This is a common, small, colonial, ground-nesting bumble bee.

The female (worker) bee is 5 16 to ½ long. The thorax and abdomen are densely covered with short hairs. The thorax is mostly yellow with a conspicuous black T-shaped mark. There are six abdominal segments. The first and fourth abdominal segments are yellow, the second and third are orange, and the fifth and sixth are black. The head is black with a few yellow hairs, especially around the base of the antennae. The tongue is short.

The queen is similar but longer and plumper.

The male (drone) is similar but has longer hairs, a yellow head with a few black hairs, and yellow on the sides of the fifth and sixth abdominal segments.

 
Similar
Species

Red-belted bumble bee (Bombus rufocinctus) has a black dot, not a T-shaped mark, on the thorax.


Larval Food

Honey mixed with pollen and nectar of flowers.

 
Adult Food

Pollen and nectar of flowers, especially flowers of blackberries, raspberries, goldenrods, blueberries, bilberries, and milkweeds.

 
Life Cycle

In April the queen emerges from hibernation and searches for a new nesting site. A suitable site is typically a small rodent burrow or a natural crevice in the ground. After locating a site the queen will forage for pollen and nectar to feed her future offspring. She then lines the nest with a waxy substance that she secretes, lays eggs fertilized in the previous season, and incubates the eggs.

After the eggs hatch the newly emerged larvae, all female workers, pass through three stages before pupating and finally emerging as adults. The workers assist in expanding the nest, foraging for food, and incubating the eggs. The queen continues laying fertilized eggs throughout the summer. In late summer she begins laying unfertilized eggs which will develop into drones.

In early fall the queen lays the last of her fertilized eggs. These develop into queens. The new queens forage for food, build up body fat, and mate with drones. In mid-fall the old queen and the rest of the colony dies, leaving only the new queens.

The queens overwinter individually under a few inches of loose soil or leaf litter.

 
Behavior

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


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 24, 29.


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:

Pyrobombus

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

orange-belted bumble bee

tricolored bumble bee

tricolored bumblebee


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, caddicefly and butterfly, because the latter are not flies, just as an aphislion 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.’”

 

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)

 

       

Visitor Photos

   
Share your photo of this insect.

Bill Reynolds


There is a pretty good sized Bull Thistle patch near where I live that the bees and butterflies are working pretty hard.

  tricolored bumble bee    
       

There were quite a few Tri-colored Bumbles working the Tansy patch.

  tricolored bumble bee   tricolored bumble bee

Crystal Boyd


Queen

  tricolored bumble bee    

       
       

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  tricolored bumble bee    
       
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  Tricolored Bumble Bee (Bombus ternarius)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Tricolored Bumble Bee (Bombus ternarius)  

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
Share your video of this insect.

     
     

Other Videos

 
  Bombus ternarius - Tricolored Bumble Bee
birdingnwisc
 
   
 
About

Published on May 15, 2012

No description available.

 
     
  Tricolored Bumble Bee (Apidae: Bombus ternarius) Queen
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on May 6, 2011

Hooray! Fertile Queen Bumble Bees finally emerged from their long, long, long winter's nap this week! Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (06 May 2011).

 
     
  Tricolored Bumble Bee (Apidae: Bombus ternarius) Worker on Leaf
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 15, 2010

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (14 August 2010).

 
     
  Tricolored Bumble Bee (Apidae: Bombus ternarius) on Dandelion
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on May 12, 2010

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (12 May 2010).

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this insect.

Bill Reynolds
9/5/2015

Location: Pennington Co.

There is a pretty good sized Bull Thistle patch near where I live that the bees and butterflies are working pretty hard.

tricolored bumble bee


Bill Reynolds
8/5/2003

Location: St Louis Co MN

There were quite a few Tri-colored Bumbles working the Tansy patch.

tricolored bumble bee


Bill Reynolds
8/4/2003

Location: St Louis Co MN

There were quite a few Tri-colored Bumbles working the Tansy patch.

tricolored bumble bee


Crystal Boyd
5/29/2013

Location: La Salle Lake SNA

tricolored bumble bee


     
     
 

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