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Hunt's Bumble Bee - Bombus huntii
For definitions and diagrams of bumble bee morphology please see the Montana State Entomology Collection's Bumble Bee Morphology page
. A medium-tongued, medium-sized bumble bee: queens 19-20 mm in length, workers 11-14 mm. Hair short and even; head length medium with cheek as long as wide; mid-leg basitarsus back far corner rounded, hind-leg tibia outer surface flat and hairless (except black fringe hairs) forming pollen basket; hair of face and top of head predominantly yellow; upper side of thorax yellow anterior and posterior to black band between wing bases; T1 yellow, T2-3 red to orange, T4 yellow, T5-6 black. Males 9-13 mm in length; eyes similar in size and shape to eyes of any female bumble bee; antennae of medium length, flagellum 2.5-3X longer than scape; hair color pattern similar to queens and workers, but the upper side of thorax often with many yellow hairs intermixed with black in the band between the wings (Koch et al. 2012, Williams et al. 2014).
Across the range, queens and workers reported March to October, males April to November (Williams et al. 2014). In California, queens reported late March to late September, workers late May to early October, males late May to late October (Thorp et al. 1983); in Utah, queens March to early August, workers March to late September, males May to late October (Koch et al. 2012).
Please see the Montana State Entomology Collection's Key to Female Bumble Bees in Montana
. Females told from other Montana Bombus
by a combination of outer surface of hind-leg tibia concave and hairless (except fringe), forming pollen basket; T2-3 red or orange, possibly with yellow hairs intermixed in the middle; scutum in front of wing bases predominantly yellow or pale yellow hair; cheek as long as wide; face with yellow hairs at least centrally; scutellum with yellow hairs only.
Resident Year Round
Recorded Montana Distribution
Click the map for additional distribution information.
Western North America, from southern British Columbia east through Saskatchewan, south through the Black Hills and between the Great Plains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to southern Arizona and New Mexico, and into Mexico (Williams et al. 2014). In Colorado, reported mostly 1600-2400 m elevation, but to 4100 m (Macior 1974, Miller-Struttmann and Galen 2014); at 3050-3300 m in subalpine meadows iof northeastern Utah (Bowers 1985); to 2785 m in the White Mountains of California (Thorp et al. 1983).
High desert shrub, grassland and mixed prairie, irrigated prairie and riparian woodland, prairie parkland, sagebrush shrubsteppe, subalpine forest meadows, rarely above treeline in alpine tundra (Hobbs 1967, Macior 1974, Bowers 1985, Cook et al. 2011, Miller-Struttmann and Galen 2014, Williams et al. 2014).
Feeds on a variety of floweres, including Allium, Artemisia, Asclepias, Astragalus, Caragana, Chrysothamnus, Cirsium, Cleome, Daucus, Dodecatheon, Ericameria, Erigeron, Eriogonum, Gutierrezia, Helianthus, Hydrophyllum, Iris, Linaria, Lupinus, Medicago, Melilotus, Mentha, Mentzelia, Mertensia, Penstemon, Phacelia, Prunus, Ribes, Rosa, Rudbeckia, Salix, Sedum, Senecio, Solidago, Symphyotrichum, Taraxacum, Thermopsis, Trifolium and Vicia (Macior 1974, Thorp et al. 1983, Koch et al. 2012, Williams et al. 2014, Miller-Struttmann and Galen 2014).
Nests mostly underground. 90.3% of 31 hives built underground in southern Alberta, the remainder on the ground surface; most nests established mid- to late May. Mean numbers of eggs, larvae, and pupae in first broods were 9.3, 8.2, and 9.4 respectively; mean number of eggs laid per cell of second and third broods was 3.6. Largest hives contained up to 531 cocoons (Hobbs 1967). A nest in New Mexico in early August contained 515 workers, one queen, 709 empty worker cocoons, 101 larvae, 119 queen pupae, 117 worker pupae, and 308 eggs in the brood mass; the nest was build on the ground in an old woodrat nest of shredded wood fiber under a storage shed floorboard (Medler 1959).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Bowers, M.A. 1985. Bumble bee colonization, extinction, and reproduction in subalpine meadows in northeastern Utah. Ecology 66(3): 914-927.
- Cook, S.P., S.A. Birch, F.W. Merickel, C.C. Lowe, and D. Page-Dumroese. 2011. Bumble bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) community structure on two sagebrush steppe sites in southern Idaho. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 87(3): 161-171.
- 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.
- Medler, J.T. 1959. A nest of Bombus huntii Greene (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Entomological News 70: 179-182.
- 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.
- Thorp, R.W., D.S. Horning, and L.L. Dunning. 1983. Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 23:1-79.
- 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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- Adhikari, S. 2018. Impacts of dryland farming systems on biodiversity, plant-insect interactions, and ecosystem services. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 207 p.
- Burkle L.A., M.P. Simanonok, J.S. Durney, J.A. Myers, and R.T. Belote. 2019. Wildfires influence abundance, diversity, and intraspecific and interspecific trait variation of native bees and flowering plants across burned and unburned landscapes. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7(252):1-14.
- Delphia, C.M., Griswold, T., Reese, E.G., O'Neill, K.M., and Burkle, L.A. 2019. Checklist of bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) from small, diversified vegetable farms in south-western Montana. Biodiversity Data Journal: e30062
- 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.
- McMenamin, A.J., and M.L. Flenniken. 2018. Recently identified bee viruses and their impact on bee pollinators. Current Opinion in Insect Science 26:120-129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2018.02.009
- Reese, E.G., L.A. Burkle, C.M. Delphia, and T. Griswold. 2018. A list of bees from three locations in the Northern Rockies Ecoregion (NRE) of western Montana. Biodiversity Data Journal 6: e27161.
- Sater, S. 2022. The insects of Sevenmile Creek, a pictorial guide to their diversity and ecology. Undergraduate Thesis. Helena, MT: Carroll College. 242 p.
- 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.
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