Bumble Bee Guide

Bumble Bees of the Eastern United States

The Bumble Bee Guide can help you identify bumble bees from the Eastern United States. Learn the names of bumble bees to expand awareness, improve monitoring, and evaluate plantings. Under construction. info@bumblebeeflowerfinder.info

Select characters that match specimens and places (☼). T = tergum: abdominal segment. ♀ = 6 terga, 12 antennal segments; ♂ = 7 terga, 13 antennal segments. Click the "Name" button for a gallery of species. Click illustrations for species profiles. Reload to reset.



Seven subgenera, 21 species, and 58 caste members of bumble bees are catalogued. The most listed subgenus is Pyrobombus. Bombus bodies are commonly 0.5–0.8" long and black, brown, or red. Hair is often black, yellow, even, and short. Faces frequently have black and yellow hair. Cheeks are chiefly long. Tongues and antennae are mostly medium length. Vertices often have yellow and black hair.

Bombus thoraxes normally have yellow hair, yellow fronts and sides, and a black band or spot between the wings. Wings are often slightly darkened with brown–black veins. Midleg basitarsi mostly have rounded corners. Hindleg tibiae commonly are bald and flat. Abdomens mainly have black or yellow hair: usually T1–2 are yellow and T3–7 are black. Species often have multiple lookalikes.

Bumble bees normally nest in existing underground or aboveground cavities. Colony sizes are commonly small to medium with ~40–400 members. Five species of cuckoo Bombus (subgenus Psithyrus) are guests of 1–4 hosts. Many colony, guest, and host details remain unknown. Nine Bombus species are recorded in all 14 states. B. frigidus was only recorded once in VA on 11 October 1963.

Over 35% of regional bumble bee species are endangered, threatened, vulnerable, or data deficient. Bombus affinis and cuckoo variabilis are critically endangered, fraternus is endangered, terricola, fervidus, and pensylvanicus are vulnerable, while cuckoo ashtoni and others are threatened or data deficient. You can support bumble bees by planting a selection of preferred flowers.

Illustrations by Elaine Evans and The Xerces Society.