Common eastern bumble bee
The most common bumble bee found in Wisconsin, as well as the easiest to identify! This species has bee found to be stable, or perhaps even increasing in abundance. One of the earliest species to emerge in the spring.
Body hair medium length and even. Thorax mostly yellow, with a circular patch of black hairs between the base of wings. First abdominal segment fully yellow, with all remaining segments black. Queens distinctly larger than workers. Males always with yellow patch of hair in middle of face, forming a “beard” or “mustache” feature. Males also lack corbiculae, or the flattened midleg of the hind leg used for transporting pollen.
B. impatiens has the longest-lived colonies of any of Wisconsin’s bumble bees. Queens begin foraging early, emerging shortly after B. bimaculatus in late April or early May. Workers can be found from May-October, with new queens and drones observed from July-October.
In addition to being active throughout the growing season, B. impatiens is also found throughout the state of WI. Typically, this species is associated with the agricultural landscapes of the central and southern portions of the state, but it can be found farther north, as well.
While a number of bumble bee species in Wisconsin have declined over the past 30 years, B. impatiens has managed to stay stable, or perhaps even increase in abundance. This is thought to be thanks to B. impatiens ability to withstand agricultural landscapes and disturbances.