Tri-colored Bumble Bee

Image © Tom Murray

Bombus ternarius

Common name:
Tri-colored bumble bee


Surely one of the most handsome bumble bees anywhere, this vibrantly colored bumble is sure to catch your eye. This species looks very similar to B. huntii in the West.

Physical Appearance

Hair length short and even. Thorax yellow, with a well-defined T-shaped black band between wings. First abdominal segments yellow, segments 2 and 3 red-orange, segment 4 yellow, and the rest black. Yellow hairs on face for, especially so for queens and males. Male color patterns identical to those of workers, with some additional yellow on the last abdominal segments. Males also lack corbiculae, or the flattened midleg of the hind leg used for transporting pollen.

Color Morphs




Activity Period

Queens emerge early, and colonies last well into September. Peak worker numbers in late July, with new queens and drones present from late July to September.


Throughout Wisconsin, but particularly associated with woodlands and wetlands. Central and Northern Wisconsin with the greatest number of historical records.

Conservation Status

Generally stable, however additional data on contemporary distribution, abundance, and ecology is needed.

Preferred flowers




Can be confused with...

Bombus rufocinctus

Bombus borealis