Fun American Bumblebee Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Aug 29, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 27, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
The American Bumblebee facts are an interesting way to find out unique features about these pollinators
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.4 Min

The American Bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) is native to North America and found in Southern Canada, Central and Eastern United States, and Mexico. These bees are quite social and live in groups consisting of the queen, workers, and males.

This bee species have a significant pattern of yellow and black stripes which divide their body into segments. They have dark, translucent wings while their body is covered in spurs, and the queen is usually larger than the workers and males.

The American Bumblebee (Bombus pennsylvanicus) uses its long tongues that help them forage from flowers such as clovers, vetches, goldenrods, and boneset.

They have an annual colony cycle during spring, before which the queen bee collects nectar and pollen to make her pollen ball for the eggs which will grow up and become workers. Their nests are usually found on the ground among the tall grass and sometimes underground in burrows of other animals.

Once the workers reach maturity, they carry out the job of pollinating the wildflowers in autumn and late summer.

These bees have shown characteristic interactions with other animals as well. They are known to follow Müllerian and Batesian mimicry along with other insects to avoid predators. They are susceptible to parasitoid infestation from other infects, the nematode worm, and tracheal mites, which eventually kill or paralyze the host bee.

If you are interested in knowing more about tiny insects, take a peek at the Honey Bee and Stingless Bee.

American Bumblebee Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an American Bumblebee?

The American Bumblebee (Bombus pennsylvanicus) is a type of eusocial insect that has colonies consisting of a queen, workers, and male bees. They are native to most of North America with their range from South Canada, Central and Eastern United States, and Mexico.

What class of animal does the American Bumblebee belong to?

The American Bumblebee (Bombus pennsylvanicus) belongs to the class of Insecta under the order of Hymenoptera, family Apidae, and genus Bombus.

How many American Bumblebees are there in the world?

The exact population range of this bee species is unknown. However, recent observations have proven that these bees' numbers are decreasing regionally as well as locally, giving them the conservation status of Vulnerable.

Some studies have shown that there has been a massive decline in Illinois, Giles, New York State, and Ontario, with evidence that they are entirely absent in certain regions.

Where does the American Bumblebee live?

This bee species is native to North America and is sound in Central and Eastern United States, Mexico, and South Canada.

To name a few places, the range of these bees is found in Quebec, Alberta, and Ontario in Canada. This bee species is also found across numerous states in the US such as South Dakota, New Mexico, Illinois, Mississippi, Michigan, Iowa, Alabama, Texas, New York, Wyoming, Montana, California, Alabama, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Maine, Colorado, and Ohio.

In Mexico, these bees are spotted in Sonora, Guanajuato, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Jalisco, Baja California, Tamaulipas, Nayarit, Sinalao, Guerrero, and Chiapas.

What is an American Bumblebee habitat?

These bees live in terrestrial grassland environments, where their range is usually found in farmland, open fields, and rarely, in urban areas. When laying their eggs, queen bees usually nest on the ground among the tall grass or in underground burrows of other animals.

Who does the American Bumblebee live with?

These bees are eusocial and live in colonies that comprise the queen bees, worker bees, and reproductive bees, i.e., new queens and males. The colony formation begins when the queen gets out of hibernation, usually early spring.

She forages for nectar and pollen from plants they usually pollinate to create her pollen ball. She cares for the nest until new worker bees mature and carry out the work while the old queen lays her eggs.

Since these queen bees follow the process of haplodiploid, they choose the sex of their eggs.

Their hives keep growing with every batch foraging and caring for the next, and by late summer, the colony will have over 200 worker bees. Eventually, after occasional battles with the workers, the queen is stung to death and the cycle is repeated.

How long does an American Bumblebee live?

Although the exact lifespan of this bee species is unknown, mostly bumblebees live for a total of 28 days in their wild habitat, whereas queen bees may live up to 12-24 weeks.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction in these bees begins with the start of their colony cycle, which is during spring in February. Another characteristic mating feature about these bees is that they can produce eggs without any fertilization, also known as haplodiploidy.

In this process, the unfertilized egg turns into haploid males, while the fertilized ones become diploid females.

A freshly-hatched future queen born around July or August hibernates mating with males, usually until the spring of next year. That is when a new colony cycle begins with a new queen bee.

Initially, the fertilized queen of this species will wander about flowers of plants they pollinate to collect pollen and nectar.

These queens bind this with the wax she produces to form a pollen ball and she will keep adding to it until it is suitable to nourish her eggs. The American Bumblebee nest site is usually on the ground among the tall grass or underground in abandoned burrows or bird nests.

The queen bees warm their first batch until they go through all the developmental stages of around four to five weeks, first being the larvae, then the pupae, and lastly, mature female bees.

The queen continues laying eggs while the young female workers forage for pollen and nectar while also caring for the nest to increase the size of the colony. Usually, workers born during midsummer are larger and healthier because of the constant care from the workers of the previous batch.

By late summer, the hive will host over 200 worker bees.

Once the queen bee decides that the colony has reached its capacity, she lays eggs without a specific chemical responsible for the ovarian production of some female bees. In case female workers produce their eggs, the queen bee will discard them.

What is their conservation status?

The range and abundance of the American Bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) are decreasing due to habitat loss, and that is why the IUCN has given it the conservation status of Vulnerable.

American Bumblebee Fun Facts

What does the American Bumblebee look like?

This bee species is among the medium-sized bumblebees, but they have a comparatively longer tongue and head with a richer shade of yellow with a darker shade at the base of their wings. They have black wings, feet, spurs, and heads with alternating black and yellow bands on their body.

The male usually has a yellow abdomen with an orange tip, black stripes on the lower thorax, and longer antennas. The queen has more black, with the back portion a bright yellow shade.

The workers have long faces and cheeks with a dent on their noses, black tails, and yellow middle tergites. When comparing their size, queen bees are usually the largest.

American Bumblebee

How cute are they?

These bees can be quite scary because of their stings, but they also are one of the cutest insects in existence. Even more so because of their fuzzy, blanketed appearance, which makes you want to cuddle them.

How do they communicate?

In general, insects communicate through actions and vibrations, but these bumblebees have a unique way of interacting with other species in their habitat. They follow certain mimetic complexes such as Müllerian and Batesian Mimicry.

In the Müllerian form, well-defended species mimic one another honest warning signals to confuse and avoid predators.

In the Batesian way, a weak species will often mimic the warning signals of a harmful species to scare off predators before they approach. This helps the bee and reduces the predation of other mimicking insects such as day-flying moths, sawflies, flies, beetles, and other bee species such as the Digger Bee and Carpenter Bee.

How big is the American Bumblebee?

The American Bumblebee size can be measured at 0.5-1.0 in (1.3-2.6 cm), which is slightly smaller than a Scorpionfly.

How fast can an American Bumblebee fly?

The exact flight speed of the American Bumblebee is unknown. However, most types of bumblebees fly at a speed of around three yards per second. When foraging, the flight speed of this bee can go up to 16 yards per second.

How much does an American Bumblebee weigh?

The weight of the American Bumblebee has not been recorded.

What are the male and female names of the species?

This North American bee does not have separate names for its male and female counterparts. However, in colonies, they are segregated as queens, workers, and males.

What would you call a baby American Bumblebee?

The baby bumble goes through two developmental stages before becoming an adult. During the first stage, they are called larvae, and in the second, they are called pupae.

What do they eat?

These bumblebees pollinate several types of flowers and forage for their pollen and nectar. This bee species is known for its characteristic 'buzz pollination' method in which it vibrates the flower so that the pollen comes loose from the anthers, which is also the reason for their name.

The American Bumblebee diet popularly consists of flowers such as St. John's wort, vetches, goldenrods, clovers, trout lilies, columbines, and boneset.

Are they dangerous?

Compared to Red Paper Wasps or Bald-faced hornets, these bumblebees are less aggressive and do not sting often. The female uses her sting when she or her nest is threatened. If humans get stung, they do cause a lot of pain and irritation, and in some cases, a deadly allergic reaction.

Would they make a good pet?

No, this bee species prefers building its colonies in the wild to nest, and hence, they would not make incredible pets.

Did you know...

Though bumblebees do no produce honey, they are very important pollinators. They help very much in the growth of plants. American Bumblebees are the largest type of bumblebees in America.

Are American Bumblebees endangered?

Yes. Native to North America, these bumblebees have received endangered status due to decreasing regional and local population range. Improper agricultural practices and non-wildlife-friendly techniques such as the usage of pesticides have led to the destruction of this bee's habitat.

Do American Bumblebees sting?

Although these bees are not entirely aggressive, the female will sting when she feels threatened.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Tiger Bee Fly facts and Sweat Bee facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bumblebee coloring pages.

mexico and south canada Mainly North America in Central and Eastern US

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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