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Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Common Eastern Bumble Bee



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The ubiquitous Common Eastern Bumble Bee is a busy, buzzing pollinator that helps gardens bloom and crops flourish.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Fuzzy and loud, the Common Eastern Bumble Bee is an industrious workhorse. Like other bumble bees, it is covered in hairs. This species sports a black head and yellow hairs on its thorax. A shiny black bald spot in the center is typical. The abdomen has a single band of yellow hairs near the waist. The rest of it is covered in black, velvety hairs on each segment.

The Common Eastern Bumble Bee is the most often seen bumble bee in North America. It flies from flower to flower, drinking nectar and collecting pollen. The pollen grains get inadvertently dusted onto the body of the bee. As a bee moves deeper into various flowers, pollen grains fall onto flower pistils (female parts of the flower) and pollination occurs. Pollen grains are deliberately collected by the bumble bee and placed into special pouches on its legs called pollen baskets. Once full, the Common Eastern Bumble Bee will return to its colony and deliver the pollen. The pollen is then taken to special cells to feed larvae.

This social bee form large colonies. It is able to fly at higher, colder altitudes compared to other kinds of bumble bees. Like all insects, cold temperatures slow them down, but they are hardy insects and remain active later into autumn than other species. Bumble bees are unable to survive cold winters, however, and all but the young, future queens die. In the spring, these young queens will lay eggs and begin a new colony of bees.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Helpful insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Apidae
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          Genus: Bombus
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            Species: impatiens
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Bombus impatiens
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 9mm to 21mm (0.35" to 0.82")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, yellow
Descriptors: fuzzy, hairy, pollen, baskets, flying, helpful
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 9mm (0.4in) and 21mm (0.8in)
Lo: 9mm
Md: 15mm
Hi: 21mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Common Eastern Bumble Bee may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Common Eastern Bumble Bee. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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