Golden northern bumble bee (Bombus fervidus) is always a treat to see. This handsome bumble bee is found in open lands including meadows, agricultural fields, and cities. Through B. fervidus is widespread, it is never very common, and is thought to be in decline, possibly due to the widespread transition of open farmlands to forest in the northeast over the past several decades. This species has a long tongue and is fond of flowers with deep corollas like clovers (Trifolium spp.), wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), and thistles (Cirsium spp.).
Active from April through October in the northeast. Eusocial.
Widespread but local, restricted to open habitats, including cities. Thought to be decline throughout region.
Size > honey bee
Females: Head dark; thorax lemon yellow with a distinct black band between the wings and darker hairs beneath the wing bases; abdomen T1-T4 bright yellow with a black tip.
Males: patterned like female but with a yellow facial hairs and longer antennae that hook at the tip.
- Bombus borealis have yellow hairs on face. B. borealis abdomen is typically a darker amber than the bright yellow of B. fervidus.
- All-yellow males of B. perplexus lack black band across thorax.
- Female B. pensylvanicus have darker wings and extensive black on thorax.
- Male B. pensylvanicus often have less yellow on the abdomen and a more prominent black band between the wings.
Eusocial. Overwintering mated gynes found new colonies in spring. Nests are primarily constructed in below-ground in abandoned rodent burrows, or cavities at ground level (such as beneath long thatch grass or in hay piles).
Generalized, but thistles (Cirsium spp.), bee balm (Monarda spp.), vetches (Vicia spp.), zinnias (Zinnia spp.) and red clovers (Trifolium pratense) are favorites. Long-tongued, so often found on flowers with deep corollas.
Host to the social parasites Bombus citrinus and B. insularis.
Page last updated:
February 22, 2023