Bombus griseocollis — Brownbelted bumble bee

photo of Worker on purple coneflower (<em>Echinacea purpurea</em>)
Worker on purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) — Jay Watson
The brownbelted bumble bee is found throughout northern and eastern U.S. It is considered one of the most widespread and abundant bumble bee species in the northeast and great plains (Hatfield et al. 2015, Williams et al. 2014). Wisconsin has a handful of current observation records from the southern half of the state. Historic records range across the state.
The brownbelted, like other bumble bees, live in colonies composed of a single queen and female workers. Colonies start to produce new queens and males in the mid- to late summer. Only new, mated queens overwinter, emerging from diapause (a form of hibernation) in the spring. New queens are responsible for finding a new nest site, laying eggs, and for all of the foraging and care of the colony until the first workers emerge (Hatfield et al. 2015). Once the first workers emerge, the queen remains in the colony laying eggs. Bumble bees need areas that provide nectar and pollen from flowers throughout the duration of the colony life cycle, and suitable sites for nesting and for overwintering queens.

Status-Global/State:

Global: G5     Wisconsin: S4    

image showing reference locations of body parts

Identification:

  • Worker – Face and vertex mostly black or intermixed. Thorax yellow often with a black spot. Abdominal segments T1 yellow, T2 brown half-moon surrounded by black, and T3-5 and T6 black.
  • Queen/gyne – Similar to workers, but are larger and appear earlier in the season.
  • Male – Similar to workers except with lighter face and vertex. Males have large eye.
  • Other distinguishing features – Hair short and even and cheek/face short.

Similar Wisconsin Species:

Similar bumble bee species in Wisconsin are twospotted bumble bee (B. bimaculatus), rusty patched bumble bee (B. affinis), common eastern bumble bee (B. impatiens), southern plains bumble bee (B. fraternus), and redbelted bumble bee (B. rufocinctus) (Colla et al. 2011, Williams et al. 2014).

Counties with verified B3 observations (in green).

Description of Habitat/Range:

Known habitats include open fields, urban parks, gardens, wetlands, and prairies (Williams et al. 2014). Nests have been found on the ground surface (Colla et al. 2011, Williams et al. 2014).

Nectar Plants

The brownbelted bumble bee is a short-tongued species (Williams et al. 2014). Nectar plants include Asclepias (milkweeds), Cirsium (thistles), Coronilla, Dalea (prairie clover), Echinacea (purple coneflowers), Helianthus (sunflowers), Lythrum (loosestrifes), Melilotus (sweet clovers), Monarda (bee balm), Pontederia, Rhus (sumacs), Rudbeckia (eyed Susans/yellow coneflowers), Solidago (goldenrods), Trifolium (clovers), Verbena and Vicia (vetches) (Williams et al. 2014, Colla et al. 2011).

Click on the legend symbols for each type of bumble bee to add or remove them from the graph.
Data from verified B3 observations [updated 6/15/2020].

Flight Season:

In Wisconsin, observations have been reported between May and September. Range-wide, queens start emerging in May and enter diapause in September (Colla et al. 2011).

Literature Cited:

Colla, S., Richardson, L. and Williams, P. (2011) Bumble Bees of the Eastern United States. A product of the USDA Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Williams, P.H., Thorp, R.W., Richardson, L.L. and Colla, S.R. (2014) The Bumble bees of North America: An Identification guide. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Hatfield, R., Jepsen, S., Thorp, R., Richardson, L. & Colla, S. 2015. Bombus griseocollis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T44937645A46440221.

photo of Worker on purple coneflower (<em>Echinacea purpurea</em>)
Worker on purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) — Jay Watson
photo of Body diagram: female
Body diagram: female — Elaine Evans
photo of Body diagram: male
Body diagram: male — Elaine Evans
photo of Worker on purple coneflower (<em>Echinacea purpurea</em>)
Worker on purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) — Jay Watson
photo of Gyne on wild bergamot (<em>Monarda fistulosa</em>)
Gyne on wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) — Jay Watson
photo of Gyne on wild bergamot (<em>Monarda fistulosa</em>)
Gyne on wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) — Jay Watson
photo of Queen on apple tree (<em>Malus pumila</em>)
Queen on apple tree (Malus pumila) — Jay Watson
photo of Queen on wild lupine (<em>Lupinus perennis</em>)
Queen on wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) — Jay Watson
photo of Worker on wild rose (<em>Rosa</em> sp.)
Worker on wild rose (Rosa sp.) — Jay Watson
photo of Perched male <em>B. griseocollis</em>
Perched male B. griseocollis — Jay Watson
photo of Worker <em>B. griseocollis</em>
Worker B. griseocollis — Jay Watson
photo of Worker on wild bergamot (<em>Monarda fistulosa</em>)
Worker on wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) — Jay Watson
photo of Worker on purple prairie clover (<em>Dalea purpurea</em>)
Worker on purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea) — Jay Watson
photo of Perched male <em>B. griseocollis</em>
Perched male B. griseocollis — Jay Watson
photo of Worker on white wild indigo (<em>Baptisia alba</em>)
Worker on white wild indigo (Baptisia alba) — Jay Watson
photo of Worker on wild bergamot (<em>Monarda fistulosa</em>)
Worker on wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) — Jay Watson
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