Tri-colored Bumble Bee, Bombus ternarius

Excerpted from Bumble Bees of Wisconsin

Tri-colored Bumble Bee, Bombus ternarius Surely one of the most handsome bumble bees anywhere, this vibrantly colored bumble is sure to catch your eye.

  Physical Description

Hair length short and even. Thorax yellow, with a well-defined T-shaped black band between wings. First abdominal segments yellow, segments 2 and 3 red-orange, segment 4 yellow, and the rest black. Yellow hairs on face for, especially so for queens and males. Male color patterns identical to those of workers, with some additional yellow on the last abdominal segments. Males also lack corbiculae, or he flattened midleg of the hind leg used for transporting pollen.

  • Queen length: 17-19 mm
  • Female Worker length: 8-13 mm
  • Drone length: 9-13 mm

  Activity Period

Tri-colored Bumble Bee activity period Queens emerge early, and colonies last well into September. Peak worker numbers in late July, with new queens and drones present from late July to September.


Tri-colored Bumble Bee, Bombus ternarius graphic Throughout Wisconsin, but particularly associated with woodlands and wetlands. Central and Northern Wisconsin with the greatest number of historical records.

  Preferred Flowers


Bumble Bee Videos

 Buzz Pollination
 Slo-Mo Footage of a Bumble Bee Dislodging Pollen
 Look Inside a Bumblebee Nest
 How to Build a Bumble Bee House
 Development of Colony and Nest in the Bumblebee

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