Insect Identification
Insect Identification

American Bumble Bee - (Bombus pennsylvanicus)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 10/20/2014

The yellow and black American Bumble Bee is a classic summertime friend doing more good for plants than harm to people.

Picture of American Bumble Bee

Similar to Golden Northern Bumblebee (Bombus fervidus) but larger, this Bumble Bee has black coloring just behind the wings. One to 3 stripes of yellow appear on its abdominal segments. They have hairs all over their yellow and black bodies. The back legs have pollen baskets (pouches that are used to hold pollen grains that are collected from flowers). If a bee is having a good day, you will be able to see the full baskets, holding their orange/yellow pollen.

Bumble bees are industrious pollinators. They forage for pollen all over meadows, parks, open fields, gardens and forests. They use the pollen to make honey, which sustains them in colder months. They also drink flower nectar.

They are beneficial insects, helping to pollinate crops, orchards and garden plants. Sadly, its numbers are declining for a variety of reasons. Habitat loss, pesticide use, pollution and mites are reducing the number of bee colonies in the U.S.. Without these small workers, most plants would need to be pollinated by hand. Birds and wind pollination are usually specific to certain plants and cannot be relied on to do the work of a population of bees.

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Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common name: American Bumble Bee
Scientific Name: Bombus pennsylvanicus
Other Names: Bumble Bee

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Hymenoptera
      Family: Apidea
       Genus: Bombus
        Species: pennsylvanicus

Adult Size (Length): 10mm to 23mm (0.39in to 0.91in)

Identifying Colors: black; yellow

Additional Descriptors: stinger, fuzzy, hairy, furry, striped, stinging, flying

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming;Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.