Red-belted Bumble Bee

Image © R. Bercha

Bombus rufocinctus

Common name:
Red-belted bumble bee


A common, and incredibly diverse bee with respect to its color patterns. Over 30 different color morphs make this species a tough one to identify readily. However, several common color patterns exist and can be easily recognized.

Physical Appearance

Hair medium and even. Thorax yellow, with black band between wings. Abdominal coloration extremely variable. Two primary color morphs exist, a light and dark. The light morph is pictured here. Abdominal color pattern is generally yellow-yellow-red-red-black-black from T1-T6. Dark morph color pattern has the same thoracic coloration, with the abdominal pattern being black-black-yellow-black-yellow-black from T1-T6.  Queens and workers are generally a bit smaller than other common species.  Males with similarly variable color patterns, but an obvious yellow beard on the middle of the face.

Color Morphs

Queens (light morph)

Workers (light morph)

Males (light morph)

Queens (dark morph)

Workers (dark morph)

Males (dark morph)

Activity Period

Similar to B.impatiens, long lived colonies.  Largest densities possible during July as all three castes are present.  Look for new queens in late July and early August.


The red-belted bumble bee can be seen throughout Wisconsin, but it is not as common as other species.  Historical and contemporary records suggest that this species makes up < 10% of records.

Conservation Status

Seemingly stable.  However, because it is not super common, it is difficult to tell what the true status of this species is.  We need additional data on distribution and abundance to make more informed conservation decisions for B. rufocinctus

Preferred flowers

Cirsium (Thistle)

Solidago (Goldenrod)

Trifolium (Clover)

Can be confused with...

Bombus ternarius (for the light morph of B. rufocinctus)

Bombus auricomus (for the dark morph of B. rufocinctus)