Frigid Bumble Bee - Bombus frigidus
For definitions and diagrams of bumble bee morphology please see the Montana State Entomology Collection's Bumble Bee Morphology page
. A medium-sized bumble bee with a medium-long tongue: queens 17-19 mm, workers 8-11 mm. Hair is long; head length medium with cheek as long as wide; mid-leg basitarsus with far back corner rounded; outer surface of the hind-leg tibia flat and lacking hair except at fringe (fringe hairs pale orange), pollen basket present; hair of face black with some short yellow hairs; upper part of thorax anterior to the wings yellow, sides generally yellow (rarely extensively black), a black band between the wing bases; T1 yellow, T2 yellow or mostly so, T3-4 lacking yellow, T5 orange. Males 10-15 mm in length; eye similar in size and shape to that of any female Bombus
; antennae of medium length, flagellum 3X length of scape; hair color pattern similar to queens and workers (Koch et al. 2012, Williams et al. 2014).
Across the range, queens reported from April to September, workers and males May to September (Koch et al. 2012, Williams et al. 2014).
Please see the Montana State Entomology Collection's Key to Female Bumble Bees in Montana
. Females differ from other Montana Bombus
by a combination of outer surface of hind tibia concave and shiny (not hairy), pollen basket present; cheek as long as or slightly longer than wide; scutellum with yellow hairs only or yellow and black intermixed; T2-6 with some yellow and/or orange; scutum in front of wing bases with yellow hairs only.
Resident Year Round
Recorded Montana Distribution
Click the map for additional distribution information.
From western Alaska east across the boreal regions of Canada to the Atlantic maritime provinces, and south in the western US Cascades and Rocky Mountains to Oregon and Colorado (Williams et al. 2014). In Montana, found in the mountains of the western third of the state. In Colorado, reported from 2800 to 4200 m elevation, mostly > 3600 m (Macior 1974). Upward elevational range shift of about 300 m since 1974 also reported in Colorado (Pyke et al. 2016).
Generally selects mountain meadows and taiga, ranging to high mountain and Arctic tundra (Hobbs 1967, Macior 1974, Bauer 1983, Norment 1988, Pyke et al. 2012, Williams et al. 2014).
Visits a wide variety of plants, including Achillea, Besseya, Calypso, Cirsium, Epilobium, Frasera, Geranium, Hedysarum, Helenium, Lupinus, Mertensia, Pedicularis, Penstemon, Phacelia, Polygonum, Potentilla, Salix, Sedum, Senecio, Symphoricarpos, Taraxacum, Trifolium and Vaccinium (Beattie et al. 1973, Macior 1974, Schmitt 1980 , Ackerman 1981, Bauer 1983, Norment 1988, Colla et al. 2011, Koch et al. 2012, Pyke et al. 2012, Miller-Struttmann and Galen 2014, Williams et al. 2014).
An early emerging species in southern Alberta, establishing nests < 1830 m elevation from late April and early May to early June, and at sites > 2395 m in mid to late June (Hobbs 1967, Richards 1978). Two Colorado nests were found above 3600 m elevation in alpine tundra (Macior 1974). The majority of Alberta nests established below treeline are built near the forest-meadow ecotone. Nests are built most often underground, but may be established on the ground surface (usually in an old rodent nest). Nest entrances often camouflaged during nest establishment and prior to creation of a brood chamber. Frequent attempts at nest usurpation by conspecifics and other species of Bombus queens likely contributes to this behavior (Hobbs 1967, Richards 1978). Number of eggs, larvae and pupae of first broods in Alberta nests were 8-10, respectively, with 1 egg per cell. Mean number of eggs per cell of second and third broods averages 3. Overwintering queens occupy hibernacula they excavate in the ground at depths of 2.5 to 3.0 cm (Hobbs 1967). Males patrol circuits in search of queens (Williams et al. 2014). Parasitism by cuckoo bumble bees not reported but is likely (see comments in Hobbs 1967).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Ackerman, J.D. 1981. Pollination biology of Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis (Orchidaceae): a food-deception system. Madroño 28(3): 101-110.
- Bauer, P.J. 1983. Bumblebee pollination relationships on the Beartooth Plateau tundra of Southern Montana. American Journal of Botany. 70(1): 134-144.
- Beattie, A.J., D.E. Breedlove, and P.R. Ehrlich. 1973. The ecology of the pollinators and predators of Frasera speciosa. Ecology 54: 81-91.
- Colla, S., L. Richardson, and P. Williams. 2011. Bumble bees of the eastern United States. Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, Pollinator Partnership. 103 p.
- Hobbs, G.A. 1967. Ecology of species of Bombus Latr. (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in southern Alberta. VI. Subgenus Pyrobombus. Canadian Entomologist 99: 1271-1292.
- Koch, J., J. Strange, and P. Williams. 2012. Bumble bees of the western United States. Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, Pollinator Partnership. 143 p.
- Macior, L.M. 1974. Pollination ecology of the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Melanderia 15: 1-59.
- Miller-Struttmann, N.E. and C. Galen. 2014. High-altitude multi-taskers: bumble bee food plant use broadens along an altitudinal productivity gradient. Oecologia 176:1033-1045.
- Norment, C.J. 1988. The effects of nectar-thieving ants on the reproductive success of Frasera speciosa (Gentianaceae). American Midland Naturalist 120(2): 331-336.
- Pyke, G.H., D.W. Inouye, and J.D. Thomson. 2012. Local geographic distributions of bumble bees near Crested Butte, Colorado: competition and community structure revisited. Environmental Entomology 41(6): 1332-1349.
- Pyke, G.H., J.D. Thomson, D.W. Inouye, and T.J. Miller. 2016. Effects of climate change on phenologies and distribitions of bumble bees and the plants they visit. Ecosphere 7(3): DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1267
- Richards, K.W. 1978. Nest site selection by bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in southern Alberta. Canadian Entomologist 110(3): 301-318.
- Schmitt, J. 1980. Pollinator foraging behavior and gene dispersal in Senecio (Compositae). Evolution 34: 934-943.
- Williams, P., R. Thorp, L. Richardson, and S. Colla. 2014. Bumble Bees of North America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 208 p.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Dolan, A.C. 2016. Insects associated with Montana's huckleberry (Ericaceae: Vaccinium globulare) plants and the bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) of Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 160 p.
- Dolan, A.C., C.M. Delphia, K.M. O'Neill, and M.A. Ivie. 2017. Bumble Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) of Montana. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 110(2): 129-144.
- Kearns, C.A. and J.D. Thomson. 2001. The Natural History of Bumble Bees. Boulder, CO. University Press of Colorado.
- Simanonok, M. 2018. Plant-pollinator network assembly after wildfire. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 123 p.
- Simanonok, M.P. and L.A. Burkle. 2019. Nesting success of wood-cavity-nesting bees declines with increasing time since wildfire. Ecology and Evolution 9:12436-12445.
- Simanonok, M.P., and L.A. Burkle. 2014. Partitioning interaction turnover among alpine pollination networks: Spatial temporal, and environmental patterns. Ecosphere 5(11):149.
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