northern amber bumble bee

(Bombus borealis)

Conservation Status
northern amber bumble bee
Photo by Bill Reynolds
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N4N5 - Apparently Secure to Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Northern amber bumble bee is a large, frequently found, colonial, ground-nesting bumble bee.

The female (worker) bee is ½ long. The thorax and abdomen are densely covered with short hairs. The thorax is bright yellow with a conspicuous black stripe between the bases of the wings and some darker, brownish-gray hairs on the sides. There are six abdominal segments. The first through fourth are yellow, the fifth and sixth are black.

The head is mostly black. There are two large compound eyes, one on each side of the head; and three small simple eyes (ocelli) in a triangular pattern at the top of the head between the compound eyes. The middle ocellus is larger than the the two lateral ones. The top of the small (lateral) ocelli are on a virtual line (supraorbital line) with the top of the compound eyes. There are pale hairs around the base of the antennae and conspicuous bright yellow hairs on the top of the head and on the face. The hairs above the ocelli are usually entirely yellow. The tongue is short. The antennae have 12 segments. The fifth antenna segment is longer than the third or fourth. The wings are lightly brownish tinged with dull brick red to black veins.

The queen is similar but larger.

The male (drone) is similar but smaller and has longer hairs, 7 abdominal segments, and 13 antennae segments. The hairs at the base of the antennae are mostly black. Abdominal segments 5 and 6 are black at the base with considerable yellow hairs at the apex. Segment 7 is black with long black hairs.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Queen: 11 16 to

Male: 9 16 to

Worker: ½

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Yellow bumble bee (Bombus fervidus) has black hairs on the top of the head and on the face. The hairs above the ocelli may have some short yellow hairs mixed with the longer black hairs.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Woodlands

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

May to September

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Bumble bees will sting to protect themselves or their nest. The stinger is not barbed and the bee can sting multiple times.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Overwintering queens emerge from hibernation in May. After emerging, a queen will forage for pollen, and search for a new site. When one is found she will construct a hollow consisting of an egg chamber and a honeypot. She tends to her brood by sitting on them, fanning them with her wings, and feeding them. When adults emerge they feed themselves from the honeypot and take over care of the brood. Nests do not survive the winter. Males die soon after mating. Old queens and workers are killed by cold weather in the fall, while new mated queens hibernate beneath the soil litter.

 
     
 

Larva Food

 
 

Larvae are fed both nectar for carbohydrates and pollen for protein.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Adults feed mostly on nectar but also on some pollen.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

24, 27, 29, 30.

 
  7/23/2018      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Frequently found

The abundance of northern amber bumble bee has decreased 7.11% across North America when comparing historical records (1802 to 2001) to current records (2002 to 2012). This is not considered a serious decline and supports the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) ranking of Least Concern. In Minnesota, the story is a little different. The extent of occurrence (EOO) of this species in Minnesota has contracted significantly. The historical EOO shows the range to include all but the far southwestern corner of the state. The current EOO shows no occurrences south of a line from the north Metro area in the east to Breckenridge on the western border.

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies)  
 

Suborder

Apocrita (wasps, ants and bees)  
 

Infraorder

Aculeata (ants, bees and stinging wasps)  
  Clade Anthophila  
 

Superfamily

Apoidea (apoid wasps, bees, sphecoid wasps)  
 

Family

Apidae (bumble bees, honey bees, and stingless bees)  
 

Subfamily

Apinae (honey, bumble, long-horned, orchid, and digger bees)  
 

Tribe

Bombini (bumble bees)  
 

Genus

Bombus (bumble bees)  
  Subgenus Subterraneobombus  
       
 

In the not-too-distant past, bumble bees were often placed in the in the subfamily Bombinae, and sometimes in the family Bombidae. Today, both of these terms are considered taxonomically invalid, though they can still be found in use on the Web.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

boreal bumble bee

northern amber bumble bee

 
       

Bumble Bee or Bumblebee?

In common usage the word bumblebee is written at least as often as the as the term bumble bee. In scientific usage, however, there is a “correct” form. The rule is: if the second part of the term accurately reflects the organism’s identity then it should stand alone. If it does not, then it should be concatenated. In short, “If true, then two.”

The Entomological Society of America follows the convention suggested by R. E. Snodgrass, author of Anatomy of the Honey Bee, when assigning common names to insects. Snodgrass states, “If the insect is what the name implies, write the two words separately; otherwise run them together. Thus we have such names as house fly, blow fly and robber fly contrasted with dragonfly, caddisfly and butterfly, because the latter are not flies, just as an dandelion is not a lion and a silverfish is not a fish. The honey bee is an insect and is preeminently a bee; ‘honeybee’ is equivalent to ‘Johnsmith.’”

Glossary

Ocellus

Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.

Bumble Bee Identification

Elaine Evans, a PhD candidate in the Department on Entomology at the University of Minnesota, the University of MN Bee Lab, and BefriendingBumblebees.com have published a handy identification chart of Minnesota bumble bees. Handy, that is, for entomologists. Indispensable for amateur naturalists in Minnesota or anyone wanting to identify the bumble bee in their photo. Click on the images below to download the PDFs.

 

Guide to MN Bumble Bees I
(Females)

Guide to MN Bumble Bees I (Females)

 

 

Guide to MN Bumble Bees II
(Males)

Guide to MN Bumble Bees II (Males)

 

 
 
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Dan W. Andree

 
 

Bumble Bee on Purple Prairie Clover....

Taken at Sandpiper Prairie SNA rural Norman Co. Mn. July 20 2018.

  northern amber bumble bee  
 

Bill Reynolds

 
    northern amber bumble bee   northern amber bumble bee  
           
  There is a pretty good sized Bull Thistle patch near where I live that the bees and butterflies are working pretty hard.   northern amber bumble bee  
           
 
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Slideshows
 
Northern Amber Bumble Bee
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Northern Amber Bumble Bee  
 
About

Bombus borealis

 
     

 

slideshow

       
 
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Other Videos
 
  B. borealis
Joseph Napper
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 11, 2015

The Northern Amber Bumble Bee

 
  Male B. borealis gets scared of passing cars, but not too scared.
Joseph Napper
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 9, 2017

Male Bombus borealis, boreal bumble bee, rests.

 
  Male B. borealis showing its parts.
Joseph Napper
 
   
 
About

Published on Mar 17, 2018

bumble bee, bumblebee, Bombus,

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
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  Dan W. Andree
7/20/2018

Location: Sandpiper Prairie SNA rural Norman Co. Mn.

northern amber bumble bee  
  Bill Reynolds
9/9/2015

Location: Pennington Co.

northern amber bumble bee  
  Bill Reynolds
9/5/2015

Location: Pennington Co.

There is a pretty good sized Bull Thistle patch near where I live that the bees and butterflies are working pretty hard.

northern amber bumble bee  
           
 
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