two-spotted bumble bee

(Bombus bimaculatus)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

two-spotted bumble bee

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common in eastern North America

Flight/Season

Very early spring to mid-summer; March to September

Habitat

Woodland habitats

Size

Queen: to

Male: ½ to 9 16

Worker: 7 16 to

Photo by Christa Rittberg

Identification

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

The female (worker) bee is 7 16 to long. The upper side of the thorax is black but is densely covered with short yellow hairs. There is a small, round spot in the middle that is , more or less bare and more or less fringed with short black hairs. At the base of each wing there is a shiny, black bare plate (tegula).

There are six abdominal segments. The first segment is densely covered with yellow hairs. Segment 2 has a broad yellow spot across the middle third at the leading (anterior) edge that extends nearly to the trailing (posterior) edge of the segment. It may be indented in the middle appearing as two connected spots or a rounded “W”. Segments 3 through 6 are entirely black and densely covered with short black hairs.

The hairs on the head are mostly black. There is a dense tuft of black hairs on the top of the head (vertex) and a dense tuft of yellow hairs on the back of the head. 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 area between the bottom margin of the compound eye and the base of the mandible, called the malar space, is relatively long. The antennae have 12 segments. The first antenna segment is slightly shorter than than the second and third combined. The tongue is very long.

The wings and legs are black.

The queen is similar to the worker but larger, to long.

The male (drone) is similar but has 7 abdominal segments and 13 antennae segments. The hairs on the back of the head are yellow, like the female, but those on the front of the head are mixed black and yellow. Abdominal segments 3 through 7 have variable amounts of yellow and black hairs. Segment 2 on some individuals is entirely yellow. Segments 4 and 5 are mostly yellow on some individuals. The compound eyes are not larger than those of the female.

 
Similar
Species

Brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis) yellow spot on abdominal segment 2 is U-shaped and extends less than half way to the posterior edge of the segment. The hairs on the back of the head of the female are black. The eyes on the male are much larger.


Larval Food

Honey mixed with pollen and nectar of flowers.

 
Adult Food

Pollen and nectar of flowers. The very long tongue allows it to feed on nectar of plants with long corolla tubes.

 
Life Cycle

Overwintering queens emerge from hibernation in March. They nest mostly underground but sometimes above ground or in cavities in dead trees.

 
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, 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:

Pyrobombus

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

two-spotted 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

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.

 

tegula

A small, hardened, plate or flap-like structure that overlaps the base of the forewing of insects in the orders Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, and Homoptera.

 

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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Christa Rittberg


  two-spotted bumble bee   two-spotted bumble bee

       
       
       

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  Two-spotted Bumblebee (Bombus bimaculatus)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
   
     
  Two-spotted Bumblebee (Bombus bimaculatus)
Bill Keim
 
   
     

 

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Other Videos

 
  Two-spotted Bumble Bee (Apidae: Bombus bimaculatus) Queen
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published 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). Thank you to 'robomantis' for identifying this specimen!

 
     
  Wild Two-Spotted Bumble Bee Nest (Bombus bimaculatus)
Victoria MacPhail
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 27, 2016

Found in a meadow/old field area on an organic farm near London, Ontario on July 10, 2016.

 
     
  Bombus bimaculatus mating
robo mantis
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 15, 2013

Bombus bimaculatus bumble bees mating early in the morning.

 
     
  Two-spotted Bumble Bee (Apidae: Bombus bimaculatus) on Blossom
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 13, 2010

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (13 August 2010).

 
     
  Bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus) on Wild Senna (Senna hebecarpa)
Tom Wassmer
 
   
 
About

Tom Wassmer

det. Sam Droege (Thanks!)

 
     

 

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