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black and gold bumble bee

black and gold bumble bee (Bombus auricomus)

Features and Behaviors

Coloration is somewhat variable. Color in the descriptions refers to “hair” color. The “hairs” are very short. The top of the head is yellow. The thorax has one or more yellow bands. The first abdominal segment may be yellow. The second and third abdominal segments are yellow. The tail is black. Wings are clear with black veins.

These insects are long-tongued bees. They nest below the surface of the ground. They are often seen at bee balms (Monarda spp.), clovers (Trifolium spp.), St. John’s-worts (Hypericum spp.) and thoroughworts (Eupatorium spp.). They are important pollinators of the flowers that they visit to collect nectar and pollen. These are eusocial insects. Their life cycle includes egg, larva, pupa and adult stages. Only the fertilized queen overwinters from a colony. In the spring, she selects a nest site and constructs the nest, which is lined with plant materials. The first brood raised consists of all workers (females). The workers do all the jobs of the hive except egg‐laying. Late in the year both males and queens are produced. Males mate with queens in the fall.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Apidae

Illinois Status: common, native