Subgenera of the genus Bombus General description Further information: Characteristics of common wasps and bees Bumblebees vary in appearance, but are generally plump and densely furry. They are larger, broader and stouter-bodied than honeybees, and their abdomen tip is more rounded. Many species have broad bands of colour, the patterns helping to distinguish different species. Whereas honeybees have short tongues and therefore mainly pollinate open flowers, some bumblebee species have long tongues and collect nectar from flowers that are closed into a tube. This is the most northernmost occurrence of any eusocial insect. Other bees have similar physiology , but the mechanisms seem best developed and have been most studied in bumblebees.
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Contact Us Bumble bees Bumble bees all belong to the genus Bombus in the family Apidae, the same family as honey bees, digger bees, squash bees, orchid bees, and stingless bees. They have special adaptations for colder weather including their long, thick hair, and are more commonly found in colder climates. Minnesota is home to 23 of the 45 species known from North America. Bumble bees have an annual colony life cycle, starting with the emergence of queens in the spring, colony founding, production of workers, growth of the colony, production of males and queens, mating, and ending with hibernation of newly mated queens.
Bumble bees are better studied than many other native bees, so we know more about their conservation status. Unfortunately, in North America 1 out of 3 species is in decline. The causes of these declines are thought to include habitat loss, pesticides, pathogens, and climate change. Visit the USFWS to get the latest updates on where rusty patched bumble bees have been found and what we can do to help protect them.
Minnesota is one of the few places on the planet where we can still find rusty patched bumble bees. We all can help them by planting flowers they prefer, creating nesting habitat by leaving corners of your yard untended and creating woodpiles, and keeping flowers and potential nesting sites free of pesticides.
Help scientists and conservationists track populations be joining citizen science efforts to track bumble bees. Do you think you have seen a rusty-patched bumble bee? Check out our rusty-patched bumble bee identification guide to learn how to tell the rusty-patched bumble bee from other bumble bee species. If you are ready for a challenge, you can print out this free identification for Minnesota bumble bees.
Befriending Bumble Bees
ALA Godort 2008 Notable Government Document Award Winner
Befriending Bumble Bees: A practical guide to raising local bumble bees