Bumble Bee Identification – Western Canada

Bumble bees belong to the insect family Hymenoptera, which includes the bees, ants, wasps and sawflies. There are over 40 recorded species of bumble bees in Canada, widely distributed across all corners of the country. Bumble bees are important pollinators – they are capable of performing buzz pollinationor the rapid contraction of the bumble bee’s flight muscles, producing strong vibrations that cause pollen to be released from flowers that would otherwise be inaccessible. This ability makes them particularly effective at pollinating a number of wildflowers, fruits and vegetables.

The incredible range and diversity of bumble bees means that you can spot a variety of different bumble bees, in different regions, at different times throughout the season.

All lab specimen images provided courtesy of Margarita Miklasevskaja at PCYU with funding from NSERC-CANPOLIN.  Friends of the Earth extends a special thank you to Packer Lab at York University.


Common Eastern Bumble Bee

Common name: Common eastern bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus impatiens
Habitat: Close to or within woodland, grassland, farmland, wetlands, urban parks and gardens1



Tri-Coloured Bumble Bee

Common name: Tri-coloured bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus ternarius
Habitat: Close to or within woodland, wetlands2



Western Bumble Bee

Common name: Common western bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus occidentalis
Habitat: Mixed woodlands, farmlands, urban areas, montane meadows and into the western edge of the prairie grasslands3


Hunt Bumble Bee

Common name: Hunt bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus huntii
Habitat: Prairies and meadows4


Nevada Bumble Bee

Common name: Nevada bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus nevadensis
Habitat: Open grassy prairies and meadows5


Two Form Bumble Bee

Common name: Two form bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus bifarius
Habitat: Open grassy prairies, urban parks and gardens, shrub areas, and mountain meadows6


Half-Black Bumble Bee

Common name: Half-black bumble bee
Latin name: Bombus vagans
Habitat: Forests, wetlands, urban parks and gardens7


Yellow-Banded Bumble Bee

Common name: Yellow-banded bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus terricola
Habitat: Close to or within wooded areas and wetlands8


Black Tail Bumble Bee

Common name: Black tail bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus melanopygus
Habitat: Open grassy areas, urban parks and gardens, shrub areas, and mountain meadows9


Vosnesensky Bumble Bee

Common name: Vosnesensky bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus vosnesenskii
Habitat: Open grassy areas, urban parks and gardens, chaparral and shrub areas, and mountain meadows10


Cryptic Bumble Bee

Common name: Cryptic bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus cryptarum
Habitat: Tundra and taiga habitats11


Yellow Head Bumble Bee

Common name: Yellow head bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus flavifrons
Habitat: Grassy prairies and mountain meadows as well as transition and northern forest areas12


Central Bumble Bee

Common name: Central bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus centralis
Habitat: Open grassy prairies and mountain meadows13


Confusing Bumble Bee

Common name: Confusing bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus perplexus
Habitat: Wooded areas, urban parks, gardens, and wetlands14


Northern Amber Bumble Bee

Common name: Northern amber bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus borealis
Habitat: Close to or within wooded areas15


Red-Belted Bumble Bee

Common name: Red-belted bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus rufocinctus
Habitat: Open farmland, parks, gardens, wetlands16


Yellow Bumble Bee

Common name: Yellow bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus fervidus
Habitat: Grassland, farmland, urban parks, gardens17


Two-Spotted Bumble Bee

Common name: Two-spotted bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus bimaculatus
Habitat: Close to or within wooded areas, urban parks and gardens18



Brown-Belted Bumble Bee

Common name: Brown-belted bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus griseocollis
Habitat: Open farmland, parks, gardens, wetlands19


Gyspy Cuckoo Bumble Bee

Common name: Gypsy cuckoo bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus bohemicus
Habitat: Open meadows, agricultural and urban areas, boreal forest and woodlands20


Fuzzy-Horned Bumble Bee

Common name: Fuzzy-horned
Scientific name: Bombus mixtus
Habitat: Open grassy areas, shrub areas, and mountain meadows21


Indiscriminate Cuckoo Bumble Bee

Common name: Indiscriminate bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus insularis
Habitat: Tundra and taiga, western mountain ranges, and some maritime regions22


Fernald Cuckoo Bumble Bee

Common name: Fernald cuckoo bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus fernaldae
Habitat: Openings and meadow edges in montane and boreal forest23


White-Shouldered Bumble Bee

Common name: White-Shouldered Bumble Bee

Scientific name: Bombus appositus

Habitat: Open meadows and granitic soil slopes24


Forest Bumble Bee

Common name: Forest bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus sylvicola
Habitat: Open grassy areas and mountain meadows25


Sitka Bumble Bee

Common Name: Sitka bumble bee

Scientific Name: Bombus Sitkensis

Habitat: Open grassy prairies and mountain meadows26


Suckley Cuckoo Bumble Bee

Common name: Suckley cuckoo bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus suckleyi
Habitat: Open grassy areas, shrub areas, and mountain meadows27


Frigid Bumble Bee

Common name: Frigid bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus frigidus
Habitat: Tundra and taiga, boreal forest, and mountain meadow habitat28


White-Tail Bumble Bee

Common name: White-Tail Bumble Bee

Scientific name: Bombus lucorum

Habitat: Garden, upland, moorland29


High Country Bumble Bee

Common name: High country bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus balteatus
Habitat: Alpine tundra, high subalpine forest meadows, open boreal areas and Arctic tundra30


Polar Bumble Bee

Common name: Polar bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus polaris
Habitat: Tundra habitats31


Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee

Common name: Rusty-patched bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus affinis
Habitat: Close to or within woodlands32


Active Bumble Bee

Common name: Active bumble bee

Latin name: Bombus neoboreus

Habitat: Arctic tundra33

High Arctic Bumble Bee

Common name: High arctic bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus natvigi
Habitat: Tundra habitats34


Sanderson Bumble Bee

Common name: Sanderson bumble bee
Scientific name: Bombus sandersoni
Habitat: Near or within wooded areas35

Obscure Bumble Bee

Common name: Obscure bumble bee

Latin name: Bombus caliginosus

Habitat: Open grassy coastal prairies and coast range meadows36



Van Dyke Bumble Bee

Common name: Van Dyke bumble bee

Latin name: Bombus vandykei

Habitat: Open grassy prairies and meadows37



  1. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937797/0
  2. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937988/0
  3. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937492/0
  4. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/21215139/0
  5. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/21215146/0
  6. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937707/0
  7. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44938024/0
  8. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937505/0
  9. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937809/0
  10. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44938235/0
  11. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/13340340/0
  12. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937784/0
  13. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937777/0
  14. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937925/0
  15. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44938377/0
  16. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/21215145/0
  17. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/21215132/0
  18. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937719/0
  19. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937645/0
  20. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/13152926/0
  21. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937898/0
  22. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937688/0
  23. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/13340361/0
  24. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44938356/0
  25. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937945/0
  26. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937938/0
  27. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937699/0
  28. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937790/0
  29. http://www.arkive.org/white-tailed-bumblebee/bombus-lucorum/
  30. No credible source found
  31. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/88120725/0
  32. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937399/0
  33. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937195/0
  34. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/88089236/0
  35. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937931/0
  36. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44937726/0
  37. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/44938052/0