Bug Day (15): Black-tailed Bumblebee

Black-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus melanopygus)
Black-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus melanopygus)

This Black-tailed Bumblebee is a native of the Western United States plus British Columbia. They are highly versatile and adaptable. They can thrive in agricultural fields or in cities; they’re one of the few bumblebees still found in San Francisco. They feed on and pollinate many types of native plants, including manzanitas, wild lilacs, goldenbushes, wild buckwheats, lupines, penstemons, rhododendrons, willows, sages, thistles, dandelions, gooseberries, currants, and clovers. They are also versatile in their choice of nest sites. They may choose the traditional underground nesting option, or make their homes in creative sites like birdhouses, mailboxes, open walls, discarded mattresses, and elsewhere. This particular individual, although found in Cesar Chavez Park, belongs to the southern flavor of this species, having black abdominal segments; the northern variety has red or orange fuzz there. These used to be considered separate species until DNA analysis joined them together; the color variations are just that.

Bumblebees generally live in social colonies, as honeybees do, but their colonies are usually much smaller. A queen is central to their reproduction. They do make honey but they store only a few days’ supply to feed their eggs, so they are not a source of honey for humans. For details check out this article on Wikipedia.

More about them: Wikipedia Montana DiscoverLife Bay Area

Tomorrow: Checkered Beetle

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2 thoughts on “Bug Day (15): Black-tailed Bumblebee

  • I’ve added a bit of info and a link in answer to your questions. Thanks for asking!

  • i’ve always wondered, do they make honey too? live in hives? have a queen bee? I know i should google it…but i like Asking Marty!

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