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.
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.