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  • Tri-Colored Bumble Bee - (Bombus ternarius)

    Tri-Colored Bumble Bee - (Bombus ternarius)

    The Tri-Colored Bumble Bee goes by many common names, but its color contrast always elicits the same reaction: curiosity.

    Staff Writer (8/27/2014): While most bumble bees adhere to the typical yellow/black coloration, this particular species has a flourish of bright orange-red on the abdomen. The rich color is intense enough to be noticed by observers at a good distance. The abdominal color pattern is the same for each individual: one band of yellow, two orange-red, another yellow and then two bands of black. Another part of their body that may look orange are the pollen baskets on their hind legs, for these bumble bees collect it and make honey, just like the much smaller honeybee. Pollen grains determine the color of the baskets so they will change color depending on what type of flower the bumble bee is collecting from.

    Nests are made in the ground and are lined with honeypots. Workers collect pollen and bring their filled pollen baskets back to the nest where the pollen is made into honey. Larvae are fed honey until they develop into adults. Adults drink nectar and may also eat honey in seasons of nectar scarcity. Drones also exist in this species, providing mates for the queen. Only newly developed queens will survive the winter. In spring, she will lay her fertilized eggs and populate her nest with more workers and drones.

    Tri-Colored Bumble Bees can be found in gardens, parks, open fields and meadows where they will forage for pollen. They are most active in the summer months.

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    Details of the:
    Tri-Colored Bumble Bee

    Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
    Common name: Tri-Colored Bumble Bee
    Scientific Name: Bombus ternarius
    Other Names: Orange-Belted Bumble Bee, Red-Tailed Bumble Bee, Tri-Coloured Bumble Bee

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Hymenoptera
          Family: Apidae
           Genus: Bombus
            Species: ternarius

    Size (Adult, Length): 9mm to 18mm (0.35in to 0.71in)

    Identifying Colors: yellow, orange, black, red

    Additional Descriptors: flying, hairy, shiny, buzzing, fuzzy, stinging, multicolored

    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; Mexico

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

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