What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Are these red tailed bumble bees or not?
We just discovered this nest in a small birdhouse in one of our trees. They look to me like the same bees Linda Robb wrote to you about, however, my wife disagrees. Linda was in Portland, we live in the Seattle area. We spent quite awhile near the nest taking photos and they seemed pretty docile.
Ray Elliott

Hi Ray,
These are Bumble Bees, and they do have red on them, but we just learned that the common name Red Tailed Bumble Bee belongs to a Eurasian species, Bombus lapidarius. We believe this to be the Tricolored Bumble Bee, Bombus ternarius. BugGuide lists the Tricolored Bumble Bee as ranging from “Yukon to Nova Scotia, south to Georgia; widespread in the United States but rarely observed south of Pennsylvania. We then located a wonderful website of Bumblebees fourn in North America that shows body marking comparisons. They list the range as “Yukon east to Nova Scotia, south to Georgia, Michigan, Kansas, Montana, British Columbia. ” Another possibility is that your Bumble Bee might be Bombus huntii, a species listed on BugGuide with no common name. We may have to correct our archive regarding the Red Tailed Bumble Bee when we have time.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Oregon

2 Responses to Tricolored Bumble Bees

  1. April says:

    I have a birdhouse that chickadees nest in every spring. When checking this year a hissing sound came from the hole. The chickadees had created a nest inside as I clean them out every year but the only thing in the birdhouse was this bumblebee with a red stripe. It really hissed when I shook the house. I cleaned the house and let it go on it’s way. I know I probably should have left it but I have so many infestations of bees and wasps in my large yard I cannot garden without getting stung and the stings are becoming more allergic in nature with severe swelling. But I wondered why it was nesting alone and in the birdhouse.

    Tacoma, Washington

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