tricolored bumble bee

(Bombus ternarius)

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List

not listed

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

Minnesota

not listed

 
tricolored bumble bee
Photo by Mike Poeppe
 
Description

Tricolored bumble bee 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.

 

Size

Queen: to ¾

Male: to ½

Worker: 5 16 to ½

 

Similar Species

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

Habitat

Various

Biology

Season

May to October

 

Behavior

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

 

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.

 

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

Distribution

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 24, 27, 29, 30, 82, 83.

5/4/2024    
     

Occurrence

Common in northern Minnesota

Taxonomy

Order

Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies)

Suborder

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

Infraorder

Aculeata (ants, bees, and stinging wasps)

Superfamily

Apoidea (bees and apoid wasps)

Epifamily

Anthophila (bees)

Family

Apidae (honey bees, bumble bees, and allies)

Subfamily

Apinae (apine bees)

Tribe

Bombini (bumble bees)

Genus

Bombus (bumble bees)

Subgenus

Pyrobombus

   

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.

   

Subordinate Taxa

 

   

Synonyms

 

   

Common Names

orange-belted bumble bee

tricolored bumble bee

tricolored bumblebee

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Visitor Photos
 

Share your photo of this insect.

 

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

Bobbi Johnson

tricolored bumble bee  

tricolored bumble bee

   

The little guy kept visiting my flowers today

Ian Nicholson

tricolored bumble bee  

 

Bombus trenarius did not like its reflection in steel decking. April 27, 2020.

 

 

Mike Poeppe

tricolored bumble bee   tricolored bumble bee

I found the bee tonight a mile west of Houston.

     

I did get a few close pictures of this bee and I am unsure what it is? I do know that it does stand out!

  tricolored bumble bee
     
tricolored bumble bee   tricolored bumble bee
   

 

tricolored bumble bee  

 

Dan W. Andree

tricolored bumble bee  

 

a nice colored bumble bee  

 

Luciearl

tricolored bumble bee   tricolored bumble bee
Tricolored bumblebee on sneezeweed  

They are loving the Creeping Charlie. One of the few flowers growing in abundance.

   
tricolored bumble bee    

I haven't seen one since 2018, but still have this large goldenrod patch.

   
     
tricolored bumble bee   tricolored bumble bee

… bumbles are preferring Goldenrod over coneflowers. At the bee fest.

Barney

tricolored bumble bee  

 

out walking looking for may flowers and heard this bumble and managed to get pic. Was on 5/5/2020 first bee here for the season.

 

 

Bill Reynolds

tricolored bumble bee and cut-leaved coneflower   tricolored bumble bee and cut-leaved coneflower

Was at the Old Treaty Crossing Festival Huot MN today. Came across a large patch of Cut-Leaf Coneflower which all abuzz with Honey Bees and Tricolored Bumble Bees.

     
tricolored bumble bee  

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   tricolored bumble bee

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

Crystal Boyd

tricolored bumble bee  

 

Queen  

 

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
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.

 

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.

 

 

 
 
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
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.

Bobbi Johnson
5/3/2024

Location: Silver Bay, MN

The little guy kept visiting my flowers today

tricolored bumble bee
Mike Poeppe
7/31/2021

Location: Houston County, MN

I did get a few close pictures of this bee and I am unsure what it is? I do know that it does stand out!

tricolored bumble bee

Mike Poeppe
7/30/2021

Location: Houston County, MN

I found the bee tonight a mile west of Houston.

tricolored bumble bee

Bobbi Johnson
7/10/2021

Location: Silver Bay, MN

tricolored bumble bee

Dan W. Andree
7/6/2020

Location: Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

a nice colored bumble bee

tricolored bumble bee

Luciearl
9/3/2020

Location: Cass County

Tricolored bumblebee on sneezeweed

tricolored bumble bee

Luciearl
5/20/2020

Location: Cass County

They are loving the Creeping Charlie. One of the few flowers growing in abundance.

tricolored bumble bee

Barney
5/5/2020

Location: north of Virginia, MN

out walking looking for may flowers and heard this bumble and managed to get pic. Was on 5/5/2020 first bee here for the season.

tricolored bumble bee

Ian Nicholson
4/27/2020

Location: Winona County, Winona City

Bombus trenarius did not like its reflection in steel decking. April 27, 2020.

tricolored bumble bee

Luciearl
Summer 2018

Location: Cass County

I haven't seen one since 2018, but still have this large goldenrod patch.

tricolored bumble bee

Luciearl
8/3/2018

Location: Lake Shore, MN

… bumbles are preferring Goldenrod over coneflowers. At the bee fest.

tricolored bumble bee

Bill Reynolds
8/26/2017

Location: Red Lake Co MN

Was at the Old Treaty Crossing Festival Huot MN today. Came across a large patch of Cut-Leaf Coneflower which all abuzz with Honey Bees and Tricolored Bumble Bees.

tricolored bumble bee

Suzy
7/17/2017

Location: Tabernash, CO

Collecting pollen on grass weed seed.

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

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings

 

 

Binoculars

 

Created 1/27/2014

Last Updated:

© MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.

About Us

Privacy Policy

Contact Us