Nevada Bumble Bee - Bombus nevadensis
For definitions and diagrams of bumble bee morphology please see the Montana State Entomology Collection's Bumble Bee Morphology page
. A long-tongued, large-sized bumble bee: queens 24-25 mm in length, workers 15-21 mm. Head long, cheek longer than wide; mid-leg basitarsus with back far corner acutely pointed but not narrow, hind-leg tibia with outer surface flat and hairless (except for fringe) forming a pollen basket; hair on face and top of head black or sometimes with some yellow hair intermixed; upper surface of thorax with yellow strongly intermixed in the black spot or band between the wings, sides of thorax predominantly black; T1 with yellow hairs more dominant on sides, T2 yellow, T3 usually yellow, T4-5 usually black. Males 16-19 mm in length; eyes greatly enlarged and strongly convergent on the upper part, much larger than eyes of any female bumble bee; antennae short, flagellum 2X longer than scape; hair color pattern similar to queens and workers, but T6-7 extensively orange (Koch et al. 2012, Williams et al. 2014).
Across range, queens reported March to October, workers April to October, males May to September (Williams et al. 2014). In California, queens reported early April to late September, workers late May to late September, males early July to late August (Thorp et al. 1983); in Utah, queens March to July, workers April to September, males May to September (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 combination of the outer surface of hind-leg tibia concave and lacking hair (except for fringe), forming a pollen basket; cheek longer than wide; face predominantly with black hairs; T2 yellow, T3 yellow at least in the middle, T4-5 with black hairs; hairs between wing bases predominantly yellow, if black hairs present then forming a small central spot.
Resident Year Round
Recorded Montana Distribution
Click the map for additional distribution information.
Western North America, from southwestern Yukon Territory to southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico, and east to the western Great Plains of Saskatchewan, North Dakota and eastern Colorado (Williams et al. 2014). In Colorado, reported at 1600-4200 m elevation, but mostly below 2900 m (Macior 1974); in Montana, at least to 3050 m in the Beartooth Mountains (Bauer 1983).
Inhabits open grassy prairie, sagebrush steppe, and montane meadows, usually at lower elevations but reaching above treeline to alpine tundra (Macior 1974, Bauer 1883, Mayer et al. 2000, Kearns and Oliveras 2009, Cook et al. 2011, Miller-Struttmann and Galen 2014, Williams et al. 2014). Also commercial highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) crops to a lesser extent (Ratti et al. 2008).
Feeds on a wide variety of flowers, including Agastache, Astragalus, Balsamorhiza, Ceanothus, Cirsium, Crataegus, Dipsacus, Dodecatheon, Frasera, Helianthus, Iris, Lonicera, Lupinus, Malus, Medicago, Melilotus, Mentha, Monarda, Oxytropis, Penstemon, Phacelia, Primula, Ranunculus, Ribes, Salvia, Solidago, Spiraea, Stachys, Taraxacum, Thermopsis, Trifolium, Triteleia, Vaccinium and Vicia (Macior 1968, Beattie et al. 1973, Macior 1974, Bauer 1983, Thorp et al. 1983, Mayer et al. 2000, Ratti et al. 2008, Koch et al. 2012, Miller-Struttmann and Galen 2014, Williams et al. 2014). A minor contributor to pollination of commercial highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) in southern British Columbia (Ratti et al. 2008).
Nests underground, but also infrequently on the surface (Williams et al. 2014). Favors underground sites in southern Alberta when given a choice of artificial hives in which to establish nests; 85.7% of 21 nests built underground (Hobbs 1965a). Nests (n = 31) generally established in late May to early June (range: 17 May to 20 June). For first broods, single eggs are laid per cell; the number of larvae in first broods averages 12.4 (n = 16 colonies). Number of days required by queens to produce workers averages 24-39 (n = 14 records across four years). For second and later broods, queens lay a single egg per cell. Colonies are small; in three colonies producing queens, 55, 86, and 139 cocoons were present, and 43 and 58 cocoons were present in two other colonies failing to produce queens. Queens hibernate overwinter at depths of 8-18 cm in well-compacted soil, sometimes as many as four queens in one hibernaculum (Hobbs 1965a). Males and queens are in close contact in nests, but do not mate there. Males patrol territories and perch on tops of shrubs or other vegetation projecting above the surroundings, returning repeatedly for several days to the same perches in territories, and pursue passing insects in search of queens. Queens are mounted in midair and taken to the ground; neighboring territorial males when encountered are butted and sometimes grappled with (Hobbs 1965a, Alcock and Alcock 1983, O'Neill et al. 1991). Nest are sometime parasitized by the cuckoo bumble bees, Bombus insularis and B. suckleyi; parasitic queens sometimes kill host queens (Hobbs 1965a, Williams et al. 2014). Ants also destroy some nests.
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Alcock, J. and J.P. Alcock. 1983. Male behaviour in two bumblebees, Bombus nevadensis auricomus and B. griseicollis (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Journal of Zoology 200:561-570.
- 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.
- 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. 1965a. Ecology of species of Bombus Latr. (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in southern Alberta. II. Subgenus Bombus Robt. Canadian Entomologist 97(2): 120-128.
- Kearns, C.A. and D.M. Oliveras. 2009. Boulder County bees revisited: a resampling of Boulder Colorado bees a century later. Journal of Insect Conservation 13: 603-613.
- 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. 1968. Bombus (Hymenoptera, Apidae) queen foraging in relation to vernal pollination in Wisconsin. Ecology 49:20-25.
- Macior, L.M. 1974. Pollination ecology of the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Melanderia 15: 1-59.
- Mayer, D.F., E.R. Miliczky, B.F. Finnigan, and C.A. Johnson. 2000. The bee fauna (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) of southeastern Washington. Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 97: 25-31.
- 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.
- O'Neill, K.M., H.E. Evans, and L.B. Bjostad. 1991. Territorial behaviour in males of three North American species of bumblebees (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Bombus). Canadian Journal of Zoology. 69(3) 604-613.
- Ratti, C.M., H.A. Higo, T.L. Griswold, and M.L. Winston. 2008. Bumble bees influence berry size in comercial Vaccinium spp. cultivation in British Columbia. Canadian Entomologist 140(3): 348-363.
- 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
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
- 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.
- Adhikari, S., L.A. Burkle, K.M. O'Neill, C.M. Delphia, D.K. Weaver, and F.D. Menalled. 2019. Dryland organic farming partially offsets negative effects of highly simplified agricultural landscapes on forbs, bees, and bee-flower networks. Environmental Entomology 48(4): 826-835.
- 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.
- 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.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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