Bumble Bee Anatomy

All insects have three main body parts: the head, thorax and abdomen. Our online key focuses on color patterns on each of these three body parts. Photos that include the color patterns on all three of these body parts will be the most helpful. Many species profile pages refer to color patterns on T1-5. T refers to abdominal segments on the “back” of the bee. T actually refers to the term Tergal. So T-1 is tergal segment 1; see diagram below.

Basic bumble bee anatomy:

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In order to properly identify bumble bees, you need to first determine whether the bee you are examining is male or female. There are three different types of bumble bees you will encounter: workers, queens, and males. Both queens and workers are female. In most cases, queens and workers have similar coloration and physical features, except that queens tend to be much larger. Males can differ in coloration from females of the same species, as well as other physical characteristics. Because male bumble bees have a lot of variation and are difficult to identify from photographs, our survey is currently only focusing on females.

Is your bumble bee male or female?