North American Bumble Bees
And Bumble Bees Of
Central America And Mexico

Updated: Nov 2022

The USA has over 3,000 known species of bee, and of these, about 40 are bumble bees (i.e. of the genus Bombus). 

Status of Bumble Bees In The USA

As in other areas of the world, bumble bees are a cause for concern.  Bombus franklini and Bombus occidentalis are unfortunately believed to be on the brink of extinction/facing very serious decline.

(Update 2019: Bombus franklini and Bombus occidentalis have been given legal protection in California along with Bombus crotchii and Bombus suckleyi.  It's an interesting story!  See 'Are Bees Fish In California?').

Threats to bumble bees include:

  • habitat loss: due to intensive agriculture, urbanization and building development;
  • the use of pesticides;
  • general pollution, including air pollution; and
  • the introduction of diseases and parasites from Europe due to commercial trade in bumble bees for pollination (i.e. for using in pollinating greenhouse crops such as tomatoes) - read more on my page about commercially reared bumble bees.

Wherever possible, please try to do your bit to help if you can. 

In particular, try to leave bumble bee nests alone.  I do not recommend killing bumble bees even just to 'take a closer look' or 'to collect' them.

Bombus impatiens Common Eastern Bumble BeeCommon Eastern Bumble Bee - Bombus impatiens

For further information, the book, 'Bumble Bees of North America' is a good identification guide. See my review and description of Bumble Bees Of North America.

Another book I heartily recommend is 'The Bees In Your Backyard'.

Bumble Bees of North America - List Of Social Species

Here is a list of North American bumble bees, including cuckoo species.

(Note ‘B.’ stands for Bombus).

B. affinis

B. appositus

B. balteatus

B. bifarius bifarius

B. bifarius nearcticus

B. bimaculatus

B. borealis

B. californicus

B. caliginosus

B. centralis

B. crotchii

B. edwardsii

B. fervidus fervidus

B. flavifrons flavifrons

B. fraternus

B. frigidus

B. griseocollis

B. huntii

B. hyperboreus

B. impatiens

B. lucorum lucorum

B. melanopygus

B. mixtus

B. morrisoni

B. nevadensis auricomus

B. nevadensis nevandensis

B. pennsylvanicus pennsylvanicus

B. pennsylvanicus sonorus

B. perplexus

B. polaris polaris

B. rufocinctus

B. sandersoni

B. sitkensis

B. sylvicola

B. ternaries

B. terricola occidentalis

B. terricola terricola

B. vagans vagans

B. vandykei

B. vosnesenskii

List Of Cuckoo Bumble Bees of North America (Psythirus)

(Read more about cuckoo bumble bees)

B. ashtoni

B. citrinus

B. crawfordii

B. fernaldae

B. insularis

B. suckleyi

B. variabalis


List Of Bumble Bees of Mexico and Central America

B. brachycephalus

B. dahlhomii

B. ephippiatus

B. mexicanus

B. pullatus

B. volucella


Ref: Bumblebee Economics by B. Heinrich, Harvard University Press, 2004.

Ever wondered......
Do bumble bees make honey?

bumble bee foraging on hemp agrimony links to page called Do bumble bees make honey?

For identification charts and further information, see Bee Identification.

Do bees sleep?
Apparently they do, but how do we know?

Sleeping honey bees, links to the page 'Do bees sleep?'

Go to Bumble bees (introductory page)

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