Red-Tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus ternarius)

Order: Hymenoptera (hy-men-OP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Apidae
Genus: Bombus (BOM-bus) (Info)
Species: ternarius


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Aurora, Colorado (2 reports)
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Bozeman, Montana
Butte, Montana
Sparks, Nevada
Van Etten, New York
Beaverton, Oregon
Gold Hill, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Salt Lake City, Utah
Marysville, Washington
Spokane, Washington
Show all

Members' Notes:


On Jun 3, 2010, intrepid_gardnr from Aurora, CO wrote:

I have had some variation of this bumble bee in my garden for the last 7 years. The first one I saw only had red on the tail, this is the first one I've seen with bands. The bee is feasting on rock cress, but I haven't seen this type of bee very particular as I've seen visits to many types of flowers over the years. A handsome fellow, the saint bernard of the garden - mellow.


On May 7, 2010, di_fish from Marysville, WA wrote:

I have seen these bees for the first time this year and there are dozens in my backyard! They are all over the spanish lavendar and rosemary especially. They seem mellow and don't bother me even if I'm working near them. Any more info on them? I've never seen or heard of them until now.


On Aug 13, 2009, Hummertime13 from Sparks, NV wrote:

I love this bee! I've only ever seen one. He appeared August 2009 for the first time. I grow flowers every year and have never seen one before. He comes every day, more than once. He really seems to love Bachelor's Buttons.


On Jul 25, 2009, rdpilgrim from Spokane, WA wrote:

I had never seen a red bee till the other night, yes night.. it flew up to my front porch light. I tried to get px, too bright. then today I saw one again. The pictures match those here... are they new to the NW? who knows something about them? definately catch your eye. Wonder if the night flying is typical?


On Jun 3, 2009, Fosmark from Portland, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

Hi all,
We have been wondering what these fellas were for a long time. Then, when Doug was stung twice in one week, I decided to look them up to see if they are aggressive naturally. They don't seem to bother me, just Doug.
I noticed in your photo that the bee's moved into a bird house. Ours did as well.


On May 19, 2009, norwester from Beaverton, OR wrote:

I was delighted to see my new neighbors this spring. They mainly like a large rhododendron nearby. I am no expert, but there appears to be several stages of young bees here. You can see the large lump of debris that was cleaned out for the colony below the hole.


On Apr 17, 2008, maurygrimm from Salt Lake City, UT wrote:

I saw this bumble bee for the first time today while helping a guest at the garden center I work at in Utah. He was into the Sundancer Daisies, a Native here. He caught my eye as it is still a bit nippy (we had temps in the 50s, and have had some freezing nights again). I noticed too he keeps a lower profile while on the plant than other bombers I have seen. A beautiful sight with the orange band on his abdomen. The guest was delighted too.



On Feb 10, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

This species is not found in Southern Minnesota but are far more common in the Northern part of Minnesota. It seem to prefer more cooler locations like boreal forests as I have seen it in both the Appalachian Mts and the Rockie Mts. (northern part) I have seen it feeding on asters in late summer - mainly heartleaf but once in a while woodland white asters, and dandelions. If compared with its southern cousins, it look smaller in size.


On Jul 1, 2007, Sharonramirez from North Bend, OR wrote:

I have seen more than one red-tailed Bumble Bee in my North Bend, Oregon, garden in June of 2007.It isn't the tail that's red, but the side wagglers next to the tail, or whatever they're called. I don't know much about bugs but I know this is one Bumblebee I've never sseen anywhere else. My neighbor witnessed one of my sightings. The bee likes my columbines. I know there's more than one because one is quite a bit larger than the other. Also, I've been seeing bumblebees with orange waggles, too.

Sharon Ramirez