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Eastern Bumble Bee

Scientific name: Bombus impatiens

This native bee is the most commonly found in the eastern United States and is one of our most important pollinators. Like most natives, it has an important role to play in the ecosystems that surround us.  The fuzzy hairs you see on the body of the bee capture pollen and allow it to travel with the bee from flower to flower as they search for protein-rich pollen or high energy nectar to eat. This activity fertilizes the plants and allows them to reproduce and form seeds, berries, fruits and vegetables.


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They enjoy the pollen and nectar of a great variety of flowers.

Pollen grains stick to the furry bumblebee because of an electrostatic charge that is generated during flight.


It is very adaptive to a variety of environments. The eastern bumblebee favors fields and woods for nesting places, but the bees themselves can be found most anywhere.

Life Cycle

Common eastern bumble bees are social insects that live in colonies. Newly-mated queen bees hibernate over the winter, then emerge in early spring and begin searching for a nest site. Bumble bees have annual nests that usually contain 300 to 500 individuals. Worker bees develop first, followed by males and new queens toward the end of summer. In the fall, worker bees, males, and the old queen die.

Their lives are complex, organized and detailed within the hive, with specific tasks and locations for each member.

Ecosystem Connections

Scientists consider bees to be a keystone species. They are so important to an ecosystem that it will collapse without them. At least 90 commercially grown crops depend upon bee pollination for survival, including almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, avocados, cucumbers, onions, grapefruit, oranges and pumpkins.

Human Connections

Without the bumblebee, many sources of food could not be produced. In some cases, the eastern bumblebee has been introduced outside its native range as it is such an effective pollinator. It remains to be seen if this is a good idea or of it will have other unintended negative consequences.

Did You Know?

Bees base their color combinations on ultraviolet light, blue and green. This is the reason why bees can’t see the color red. They don’t have a photoreceptor for it. The most likely colors to attract bees, according to scientists, are purple, violet and blue.

Flying helps bees see better. They can see depth and they can see three dimensionally. They can also judge distance. They communicate these distances and directions of good foraging sites to the hive through their waggle dance.

How You Can Help

Learn more about native plants that you can add to your garden that supply nectar for our bees. Find a list here.


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