I like bumble bees. Their fuzzy bodies remind me of miniature teddy bear, and they move slowly enough that I can easily watch them. I was thrilled recently to see this large bumble bee visiting one of our daffodil blossoms. I suspected it was a queen, since I’ve learned that only fertilized queen bumble bees hibernate and survive the winter. They are the first to appear in spring as they prepare to establish a new colony.
I wanted to identify this bumble bee and find out if it was indeed a queen. I tried to get close-up photos, especially of the head and abdomen. This one shows the face, and how the bee has collected a lot of pollen on its legs and abdomen.
However, it was the view of the upper abdomen (the section behind the wings) that was most helpful. According to BugGuide, this is a Two-spotted Bumble Bee (Bombus bimaculatus) and is indeed a queen. The yellow hairs on the back of the abdomen don’t look like two spots to me, but they’re important for identification.
Bumble bees are important pollinators, and some of them are in serious decline. They are especially important in pollinating some edible plants, including tomatoes and blueberries. I’m delighted to have seen this one in our backyard and hope she can establish a thriving colony. With luck, we’ll be seeing some of her offspring later this year.