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American Bumble Bee (Bombus pennsylvanicus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the American Bumble Bee.

 Updated: 1/30/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The iconic yellow and black American Bumble Bee is a classic summertime friend doing tremendous amounts of good for plants and virtually no harm to people.



Similar to Golden Northern Bumblebee (Bombus fervidus) but larger, the American Bumble Bee has black coloring just behind the wings. One to three 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, overflowing with orange or yellow pollen. They do have smooth stingers and can use them repeatedly, but they are not aggressive and are unlikely to take notice of people and pets that aren't attacking them or their nest.

Bumble bees are industrious pollinators. They forage for pollen and nectar all over meadows, parks, open fields, gardens and forests. The type of flower they collect from is immaterial. Some flowers hide their pollen inside the anther (male part of the flower) and Bumblebees are able to shake it out by rapidly vibrating their bodies and the anther. This motion creates a loud buzzing noise with a slightly higher pitch from the buzz heard in flight. This special extraction method is called buzz pollination. They can also use their tongues to collect nectar from flowers. They may use some of that flower nectar to make small amounts of honey, placing it in small honey pots; they do not create large honeycombs for long-term storage like Honeybees. Their small amounts of honey are not stored for more than a few days though, as it is eaten quickly, and it is not harvested for human consumption.

They are beneficial insects, helping to pollinate crops, orchards and garden plants. Sadly, it is one of many types of bees whose 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.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Apidea
          Genus: Bombus
            Species: pennsylvanicus
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Bombus pennsylvanicus
Other Name(s): Bumble Bee
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 23mm (0.39in to 0.90in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow
Descriptors: stinger, fuzzy, hairy, furry, striped, stinging, flying, helpful, pollinator
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
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
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.




Ant, Bee, and Wasp Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of both a bee and an ant insect
1
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
2
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
3
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
4
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
5
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.