two-spotted bumble bee

(Bombus bimaculatus)

Conservation Status
two-spotted bumble bee
Photo by Christa Rittberg
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Two-spotted bumble bee 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.




Queen: to

Male: ½ to 9 16

Worker: 7 16 to


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.  

Woodland habitats




Very early spring to mid-summer; March to September




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 March. They nest mostly underground but sometimes above ground or in cavities in dead trees.


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


Distribution Map



7, 27, 29, 30.




Common in eastern North America



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 Pyrobombus  

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






Common Names


two-spotted bumble bee







Malar space

In Hymenoptera, the space, equivalent to the cheek, between the bottom of the compound eye and the base of the mandible.



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



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



The upper surface of an insect’s head.



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

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Bobbi Johnson

    two-spotted bumble bee      

Christa Rittberg

    two-spotted bumble bee   two-spotted bumble bee  








Visitor Videos

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Gerry Garcia

  two spotted bumble bee 01
Published on Aug 5, 2019

two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus)

Lyndale Park, Minneapolis, MN

Video by Gerry Garcia

  two spotted bumble bee 02
Published on Aug 5, 2019

two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus)

Lyndale Park, Minneapolis, MN

Video by Gerry Garcia

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Wassmer

det. Sam Droege (Thanks!)




Visitor Sightings

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  Gerry Garcia

Location: Lyndale Park, Minneapolis, MN

  Crystal Boyd
6/10 and 6/11/2013

Location: Uncas Dunes SNA





Created 7/4/2017

Last Updated:

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