Black and Gold Bumble Bee

Black and gold bumble bee landing on bee balm

Bombus auricomus

Common name:
Black and Gold Bumble Bee


One of our largest bumble bee species.  Flying by your head, they’ll sound like a helicopter.

Physical Appearance

Very large bodied bees, both workers and queens.  Body hair short length and even.  Thorax is black for the anterior (front) third, and then mostly black on the posterior (back) with some yellow hairs occasionally intermixed.  First abdominal segment mostly black, with segments two and three yellow.  Black tail. Males with an entirely yellow first abdominal segment and conspicuous yellow hairs on the face.  Males also lack corbiculae.

Color Morphs




Activity Period

Queens remain active throughout the season, while workers and males only around in the late part of the season in July and August.


Historical data suggest mostly a southern distribution for this species, however they seem to be doing well in most agricultural areas and may be expanding their range northward in accordance with a changing climate.

Conservation Status

Stable that we know of.  Historical records seem to suggest that this species might be increasing in abundance, however more data are needed to make a more substantial conservation assessment.

Preferred Flowers

Monarda (Bee Balm)

Monarda flowers

Solanum (Solanaceous)

Solanum flower

Trifolium (Clover)

Can be confused with...

Bombus terricola 

Bombus pensylvanicus 

Bombus fervidus