New York Natural Heritage Program
Northern Amber Bumble Bee
Bombus (Subterraneobombus) borealis Kirby, 1837
Insects

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Northern amber bumble bee queens and workers have a yellow face and yellow hair on the thorax, except for the lower sides, which are black, and a black band between the wing bases. Abdominal segments one through four are yellow and segment five can be black or yellow. Males have similar coloration to females, with black hair on the last three abdominal segments, present in varying degrees (Colla et al. 2011).
Northern Amber Bumble Bee Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
Bumble bee queens hibernate over the winter, emerge in the spring, locate a nest site, and rear young (workers, males, and new queens). After new queens and males mate, all males, workers, and old queens die by the beginning of winter and new queens settle into sites to overwinter (Schweitzer et al. 2012).
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Active Reproducing
The time of year you would expect to find Northern Amber Bumble Bee active (blue shading) and reproducing (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Yellow bumble bee (Bombus (Thoracobombus) fervidus)
    Yellow bumble bee queens and workers have black faces rather than a yellow face on B. borealis. Abdominal segments one through four are yellow on both species, but segment five and six are black for B. fervidus. Segment five may be black or yellow for B. borealis (Colla et al. 2011).