Yesterday, I posted about an opportunity for public participation in a bee and plant survey. Today, I want to share the 5 most common bumblebees in Arizona and New Mexico, according to iNaturalist.
American Bumblebee: Despite being on the verge of the endangered species list, it is the most common to see in our area. Females, especially queens, are large and have the most black bands on their backs of any species here.
Bombus pensylvanicus sharing Common sunflower with Svastra obliqua (longhorn bee) in Albuquerque
Sonoran Bumblebee is a close relative of the American and can be hard to tell apart. You are more likely to see them outside in the low desert around Tucson, Phoenix, and Las Cruces.
Morrison’s Bumblebee is the third most common of the large, black and yellow bumbles and closely related to the Nevada Bumblebee (6th most common). This species is almost entirely yellow and its conservation status is Vulnerable.
Bombus morrisoni enjoying a Prairie sunflower in author’s garden
Now we get to the smaller, red-belted species. First up is Hunt’s Bumblebee, which “is a striking species, consistently marked with deep colors except in faded individuals.”
The Great Basin Bumblebee is number 5 in our area. This species also has yellow hairs on its face, but a different pattern of black, yellow, and red than Hunt’s, with red and black hair bands touching on the abdomen.
For more species and identification tips, The Bumble Bees of Colorado is the best guide around.