Bombus tenarius

Tri-colored Bumblebee
Bombus ternarius

 

Identification:

Tri-colored Bumblebee Bombus ternarius
Tri-colored Bumblebee Bombus ternarius on Coltsfoot. Jun 09, 2011 Nova Scotia.

Queen and Worker: Head is mostly black with yellowish hairs around antenna. Thorax is yellow with a wide black stripe between the wing bases, central area of black V-shaped. Abdomen 1 yellow; 2 & 3 red-orange; 4 yellow; 5 and 6 black. Legs are black with black fringe.

Male: Long dense hair. Hair mostly yellow with a few black hairs intermixed. Thorax dense yellow except for a narrow black band between wing bases.  Abdominal segment 1 yellow; 2 and 3 bright reddish (unless faded); 4 yellow; 5 to 7 entirely black, side edges with yellow. Legs black. Fringes for most part long and black, except hind tibia (shin) which has pale hairs.

Size: Queen 17 to 19 mm. Worker 8 to 13 mm. Male 9.5 to 13 mm.

Flight Time: June to August.

Habitat: Woodlands and forest edges.

Food: A generalist feeder of pollen and nectar, using a wide variety of flowers.

Life Cycle: Hibernating queens appear in spring and build nests in old mouse nests or other cavities. Queen forms a wax honey pot and fills it with honey and pollen, then lays a batch of eggs on the pollen, covering them with a waxed sheet. Eggs are kept warm by the queen. Hatched larvae are continually fed by the female until they pupate. The first brood become workers and take over nest maintenance and honey & pollen foraging. The old Queen, workers and males die at the end of the season. Only mated females live to hibernate in sheltered locations until the next spring.

Comments: From Simcoe to northern Ontario. Laverty and Harder (1988, map 15) recorded it for Essex County, but it has not been seen since 1950 at Ojibway Prairies.

Synonyms: Bombus oniatus, Bombus ternarius var. expallidus

References:
Boston Journal Natural History, 1837. Vol. 1, pg. 414 male by Say.
Catalogue Hymenoptera in British Museum, 1854. Vol. 2, pg. 398 male & female by Smith as Bombus oniatus.
Occasional Papers of Michigan Univ. Museum of Zoology, 1916. Vol. 23, pg. 9. Female by Cockerell as Bombus ternarius var. expallidus.
North Carolina Experimental Station Technical Bulletin, 1962. Vol. 152, pg. 536 to 537 by Mitchell.

Bumblebees Quick ID

Quick ID
Bumblebees of Southern Ontario

Males have one more abdominal segment than females. All males, except the cuckoo males and the Black and Gold Bumblebee B. auricomus have yellow on the lower face and yellow fringe on underside of thighs (femora).
Identified by yellow/red stripes on abdomen:

One Yellow Stripe:
Common Eastern Bumblebee B. impatiens – segment 1 is yellow.

One and a half Yellow Stripes:
Two-spotted Bumblebee B. bimaculatus – segment 1 yellow; segment 2 yellow is restricted to centre of segment with straight side edges on the yellow stripe, unlike the Brown-belted. Sometimes the male has an additional stripe on segment 4. All three: queen, male and worker have yellow on top of head.

Brown-belted Bumblebee B. griseocollis – segment 1 yellow; segment 2 is yellow to yellowish-brown, restricted to centre of segment with yellow sides rounded and curving up and out to base of the segment.
Note: Male and worker segment 2 are usually yellowish-brown, but this darker colour is not obvious on the queen. Male has very large eyes.

Two Yellow Stripes:
Half Black Bumblebee B. vagans – segments 1 and 2 are yellow. Centre of thorax largely black – larger bees, fly earlier than Sanderson’s Bumblebee B. sandersoni. Sanderson’s is indistinguishable from the Half Black.

Sanderson’s Bumblebee B. sandersoni – segments 1 and 2 are yellow. Centre of thorax largely black – smaller bees, fly later than the Half Black.

Confusing Bumblebee B. perplexus female – segments 1 and 2 are yellow. Thorax completely yellow or with a tiny centre black spot.

Rusty Patched Bumblebee B. affinis – segments 1 and 2 are yellow. Reddish bar on lower border, centre of segment 2. Listed as endangered and restricted to Pinery Provincial Park, Grand Bend in Ontario.

Black and Gold Bumblebee B. auricomus female – segments 2 and 3 are yellow. Segment 1 is black but usually has yellow at side edges. Thorax yellow with a wide black bar between wing bases; lower thorax variable, yellow is mixed with black. Worn workers are easily confused with the American Bumblebee B. pensylvanicus when lower thorax yellow hairs have worn off. Best ID’d by abdominal stripes (American B. pensylvanicus has 3 yellow stripes).

Yellow-banded Bumblebee B. terricola – segments 2 and 3 are yellow; yellow fringe on tip of abdomen. Male may also have yellow on  side edges of last two segments. Thorax has narrower yellow stripe across the segment, before wing bases; rest of thorax black.

Three Yellow Stripes:
American Bumblebee B. pensylvanicus female – segments 1 to 3 yellow. Thorax base yellow; lower half of thorax black, sometimes with a very light sprinkling of yellow. Easily confused with Black and Gold Bumblebee B. auricomus – difficult to tell if first segment is entirely yellow, or just the side edges are yellow.

Black and Gold Bumblebee B. auricomus male – segments 1 to 3 are yellow. Thorax yellow with black bar between wing bases, lower edge of the black bar is V-shaped. Lower thorax has yellow tuft of hair on each side of black V-shape. No yellow hair on underside of thighs (femora).

Confusing Bumblebee B. perplexus male – segments 1 to 3 yellow. Segment 3 usually yellow in centre only. Thorax completely yellow or a tiny centre black spot.

Two-spotted Bumblebee B. bimaculatus male sometimes has a yellow stripe on segment 4 in addition to yellow stripes on 1 and 2.

Four Yellow Stripes:
Yellow Bumblebee B. fervidus female – segments 1 to 4 yellow. Thorax yellow with black bar between wing bases.

American Bumblebee B. pensylvanicus male – segments 1 to 4 yellow.  Segments 5 to tip may have yellow at sides edges; tip yellow. Lower thorax black with yellow fringe at end. Easily confused with the male Yellow Bumblebee B. fervidus which has last 2 segments entirely black.

Tri-colored Bumblebee B. ternarius – segment 1 yellow, 2 and 3 orangish, 4 yellow. Male has yellow at side edges of 5 to tip.

Red-belted Bumblebee B. rufocinctus female – segments 1 and 2 yellow, 3 and 4 orangish. Yellow tufts at side edges of 5.

Five Yellow Stripes:
Yellow Bumblebee B. fervidus male – segments 1 to 5 yellow; last 2 segments entirely black. Thorax yellow with a black bar between wing bases. American Bumblebee B. pensylvanicus male has some yellow on last 2 to 3 segments.

Red-belted Bumblebee B. rufocinctus male – segments 1 and 2 yellow, 3 and 4 orangish. Segment 5 can be yellow or orange. Some can have entirely light yellow stripes on all segments. They have very large eyes.

Bombus vagans

Half-black Bumblebee
Bombus vagans

 

Half Black Bumblebee Bombus vagans
Half Black Bumblebee Bombus vagans on Germander, Jul 17, 2009 Wheatley, Ontario.
Half Black Bumblebee Bombus vagans
Half Black Bumblebee Bombus vagans on purple Vetch Jun 30, 2010 Celista, B.C.

Identification:

Queen & Worker:
Head: Black hairs with a dense yellow tuft in the centre of the top of the head (vertex). Face black, longer and thinner than B. sandersoni.
Thorax: Yellow to tawny, except for a small (larger in worker) shiny bare spot at centre, intermixed with black between the wings.
Wings: Lightly and uniformly tinted, veins brownish.
Legs: Black with long black fringe. Front thigh has slight graying. Feet brown.
Abdomen: Segments 1 and 2 are yellow to tawny, and segment 2 might have an indent at centre on lower border. Segments 3 to 6 entirely black. Underside black.

Male:
Head: Hair yellow, especially bright below antennae, on top of head in the centre (vertex) and cheeks. Rest of face intermixed with long, black hairs.
Thorax: Bright yellow with a tiny bare spot centrally between wing bases. Black hairs intermixed with yellow on thorax sides.
Wings: Slightly tinted, more so at tips.
Legs: Legs have many long, yellow hairs on thighs. Hairs become darker toward feet. Hind shin (tibia) slender and shiny with some yellow hairs mixed with the black.
Abdomen: Segments 1 and 2 have long yellow hair. Segments 3 to 7 are black. Underside with yellow hairs.

Similar Species: Sanderson’s Bumblebee Bombus sandersoni has very few yellow hairs on top of head and flies later than the Half Black. It is much smaller.

Size: Queen 18.5 mm. Worker 11 to 13.5 mm. Male 12 to 15.5 mm.

Flight Time: May to end of September.

Habitat: Woodlands and forest edges.

Food: Generalist feeder on pollen and nectar from a wide variety of flowers.

Life Cycle: Queen builds nest either above and below ground and sometimes tries to take over the nest of another established queen. She builds a wax honey pot and fills it with honey and pollen, then lays a batch of eggs on the pollen, covering them with a waxed sheet. Eggs are kept warm by the queen. Hatched larvae are continually fed by the queen until they pupate. The first brood become workers and take over nest maintenance and honey & pollen foraging. Queen, workers and males die at the end of the season. Only mated females live to hibernate in sheltered locations until the next spring.

Comments: Essex County – Point Pelee National Park; Ojibway Prairies. Also in Leamington. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park.
Parasitized by the Lemon Cuckoo Bumblebee Bombus citrinus.

Bombus pensylvanicus

American Bumblebee
Bombus pensylvanicus

 

American Bumblebee Bombus pensylvanicus male
American Bumblebee Bombus pensylvanicus male on New England Aster. Sept 24, 2011. Wheatley, Ontario.
American Bumblebee Bombus pensylvanicus queen
American Bumblebee Bombus pensylvanicus queen on Purple Coneflower. July 15, 2006. Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification:
Queen & Worker:
Head: Entirely black, sometimes with few gray hairs above base of the antenna.
Thorax: Base yellow to wing bases; last half mainly black; a few yellow mixed with black at end. Hair longer and thicker on worker.
Wings: Dark with black veins.
Legs: Black; fringe long, black.
Abdomen: Segments 1 to 3 are yellow. 4 to 6 are black.

Male:
Head: Face and cheeks have grey-white hairs with some black hairs intermixed. Top of head has black hair. Face not as black-looking as the Yellow Bumblebee B. fervidus.
Thorax: Yellow with black stripe between wing bases. Black stripe can extend to thorax end, but always with some yellow.
Wings: Dark
Legs: Black. Fringe on underside of thighs (femur) pale yellowish. Also pale yellowish pile on underside of hind shins (tibiae).
Abdomen: Abdominal segments 1 to 4 have dense, yellow, long drooping hairs. 5 can be yellow or black. 6 and 7 mostly black with yellow on the sides of the segments. Yellow hair at centre of abdomen tip.

Similar Species: Males are difficult to separate from The Yellow Bumblebee B. fervidus. B. fervidus has last 2 abdominal segments entirely black.

Size: Queen 22 to 25.5 mm. Worker 14 to 19 mm. Male 18 to 21.5 mm.

Flight Time: June through the end of September.

Habitat: Meadows, weedy fields, open areas, gardens.

Food: Generalist pollen and nectar feeders using a wide variety of flowers.

Life Cycle: Nests under a heavy mat of grass. Hibernating queens appear in spring and establish nests at ground level in grass tussocks, often on south-facing slopes. Sometimes on or beneath the surface of the ground. Also recorded nesting in an abandoned squirrel nest. She builds a wax honey pot and fills it with honey and pollen, then lays a batch of eggs on the pollen, covering them with a waxed sheet. Eggs are incubated by the female by warming her body temperature and laying on top of the eggs. Hatched larvae (up to 40) are continually fed by the queen. The first brood become workers and take over nest maintenance and honey & pollen foraging. Males help incubate pupa in the nest. The old Queen, workers and males die by the end of the season. Only mated females live to hibernate in sheltered locations until the next spring. Life span, except for mated females is 14 to 25 weeks.

Comments: Essex County – Ojibway Prairies. The American Bumblebee is a southern species at the northern limits of its range in south-west Ontario.

 

Bombus impatiens

Common Eastern Bumblebee
Bombus impatiens

 

Common Eastern Bumblebee Bombus impatiens worker
Common Eastern Bumblebee Bombus impatiens worker on Culver’s Root, Aug 01, 2008. Wheatley, Ontario.
Common Eastern Bumblebee Bombus impatiens queen early
Common Eastern Bumblebee Bombus impatiens queen on Globe flower very early date Mar 10, 2017. Wheatley, Ontario.
Common Eastern Bumblebee Bombus impatiens male
Common Eastern Bumblebee Bombus impatiens male on Aster Oct 06, 2013. Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification:
Queen and Worker:
Head: Mostly black hair with some yellow on top of head. Face is shiny. Head is square.
Thorax: Yellow with black circle at centre which can be large or small. Thorax sides yellow.
Legs: Entirely black.
Abdomen: 1st segment yellow, sometimes with lower centre of stripe indented. Other segments black, may have faint line of fringe on lower margin of each segment.

Male:
Head: Face mostly with yellow hair. Top of head yellow hair. Long antenna.
Thorax: All yellow with centre black.
Legs: Yellow fringe mixed with some black on thigh (femur). Hind shin is very slender and shiny with long black, but sparse fringe. Hind legs are long.
Abdomen: 1st abdominal segment is yellow. Yellow hairs at side edges of underside.

Size: Queen 20 to 21 mm. Workers 9 to 17.5 mm. Males 12.5 to 16 mm.

Flight Time: April to October.

Habitat: Woodlands and forest edges, preferring sandy areas.

Food: Generalist feeder of nectar and pollen from a wide variety of flowers.

Life Cycle: Bombus impatiens typically chooses nest sites below ground in preexisting holes, often using discarded rodent nests. Nest can be many feet deep. Bombus impatiens stores pollen in old cocoons or cells. Up to 450 workers in a nest.
Parasitized by the Lemon Cuckoo Bumblebee Bombus citrinus. Vector for the new (2000) Pepino mosaic virus in greenhouse tomatoes.

Comments: Essex County – Point Pelee National Park, Ojibway Prairies. Kent County – Rondeau Provincial Park. Widespread across Ontario and Michigan.

 

Bombus griseocollis

Brown-belted Bumblebee
Bombus griseocollis

 

Brown-belted Bumblebee Bombus griseocollis worker
Brown-belted Bumblebee Bombus griseocollis worker on Milkweed, July 02, 2015, Point Pelee National Park, Leamington, Ontario.
Brown-belted Bumblebee Bombus griseocollis male
Brown-belted Bumblebee Bombus griseocollis male on Blazingstar, Aug 06, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.
Brown-belted Bumblebee Bombus griseocollis queen
Brown-belted Bumblebee Bombus griseocollis queen on Lupines May 30, 2006, Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification:
Queen and Worker:
Head: Black. Worker has some yellow on back of head.
Thorax: Dense, short yellow hairs, including the sides right down to the legs. Centre with bare elongated spot, small with a few short black hairs.
Wings: Uniformly black with brown to blackish veins. Worker wings lighter.
Legs: Hair on legs very short, entirely black.
Abdomen: Segment 1 is yellow. Segment 2 is more yellow on queen; yellowish-brown on worker; the yellow is restricted to center of segment with curved side edges extending up along base of segment. Segments 3 to 5 black.

Male:
Head: Face has pale yellow hairs all over with a few black hairs intermixed on the top of the head. Face is narrow, huge eyes.
Thorax: Dense, short pale yellow hairs with small, central circular area grey to black hairs. Thorax sides all yellow.
Wings: Darkly tinted, veins yellowish-brown.
Legs: Fringe on thighs (femora) long and yellow. Lower legs have long, dark grey or black fringe. Abdomen: Segment 1 yellow. Segment 2 is yellow-brown at centre, the yellow-brown side edges curving out and extending along the base of the segment. Segments 3 to 6 are black.

Similar Species: Two Spotted Bumblebee Bombus bimaculatus has side edges of yellow on segment 2 straight up and down, not curved, queen and worker have yellow on top of head.

Size: Queen 20 to 22 mm. Worker 13.5 to 18 mm.  Male 15 to 19 mm.

Habitat: Meadows, forest edges, nesting in dry soils above the ground.

Food: Generalist pollen and nectar feeder from a wide variety of flowers.

Flight Time: Mid-April to late September.

Life Cycle: Nest can have about 35 workers. Workers are very aggressive in defence of the colony. Males share in the brood care by warming pupae. They are often found with worn wings.

Comments: Essex County only in Leamington and Wheatley after 1980. In Colchester, Kingsville, Point Pelee and Pelee Island before 1980 per Colla. Common in rest of Ontario.

Bombus fervidus

Yellow Bumblebee
Bombus fervidus

 

Yellow Bumblebee Bombus fervidus worker
Yellow Bumblebee Bombus fervidus worker on Culver’s Root, July 27, 2014. Wheatley, Ontario.
Yellow Bumblebee Bombus fervidus male
Yellow Bumblebee Bombus fervidus male on Obedient Plant or False Dragonhead, Aug 24, 2009. Wheatley, Ontario.
Yellow Bumblebee Bombus fervidus queen
Yellow Bumblebee Bombus fervidus queen on Blue Wild Indigo, Jun 09, 2014. Wheatley, Ontario.

Identification:
Queen and worker:
Head: Face is black with only a few gray hairs just above the antennae; worker has more gray.
Thorax: Yellow with a black band between wing bases. Yellow continues down thorax sides before wings; rest of sides black.
Wings: Very dark with black veins.
Legs: Legs, hair and fringe on pollen basket entirely black.
Abdomen: The abdomen is yellow on segments 1 to 4 and black on segments 5 and 6.

Male: Hairs are longer than queen and worker.
Head: Face is black with a few yellowish hairs intermixed on top of head (vertex) and some obscure gray on face. Face much blacker-looking than the similar American B. pensylvanicus.
Thorax: Yellow with black band between wing bases. Sides yellow before wings; rest of sides black.
Wings: Lightly tinted – lighter than female.
Legs: Black. Fringe yellow and black mixed on thighs (femora), lower legs have black fringe.
Abdomen: Segments 1 to 5 bright yellow with slight black stripe between segments. 6 and 7 black entirely black.

Similar Species: Northern Amber Bombus borealis has much more yellow on entire face. The American Bombus pensylvanicus has no yellow on lower half of thorax.

Size: Queen 19 to 21 mm; Worker 14.5 to 17.5 mm; Male 11 to 20 mm.

Flight Time: Mid-May to early October.

Habitat: Meadows, roadsides and in open areas.

Food: Adults and larvae feed on flower nectar and pollen.

Life Cycle: In the fall newly mated females hibernate in litter until the next spring. They can be aggressive if their nest is disturbed. Sometimes queens will try to take over other nests. Workers will cover the invading queen with honey to push her out of the nest. Queens lay an average of 20 eggs a day for about 4 months. Workers hatch in 3 weeks and live for a month. Large workers forage, smaller workers are nurses to larvae. Nest size is between 100 to 200 bees. Towards the end of the season workers may lay unfertilized eggs but these are usually consumed by the queen, then the workers retaliate by consuming the next generation of eggs laid by the queen (Goulson 2003). In some colonies the second brood is all male and the third brood is female. Workers of the later broods become progressively larger.

Comments: Essex County – Ojibway Prairies. Canadian National Collections (CNC) have specimens from Point Pelee, Pelee Island and Kingsville. Also in Tilbury and Colchester.