Hunt’s Bumble Bee

  • Name: Bombus huntii
  • Rank: species
  • Parent ID: 538900

Bombus huntii is a species of bumblebee. It is native to western North America, where it occurs in western Canada and the United States as far east as Manitoba and Minnesota, and in Mexico as far south as the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. It is known commonly as the Hunt bumblebee or Hunt’s bumblebee.

ID: 154043

The Buzz About Hunt’s Bumble Bee (Bombus huntii): A Closer Look at this Fascinating Pollinator

Bombus huntii

Hunt’s Bumble Bee (Bombus huntii) may not be the most famous pollinator out there, but it plays an important role in the ecosystems where it resides. This fascinating bee species is native to North America and is instrumental in pollinating a variety of flowering plants. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of Bombus huntii, discussing its identifying characteristics, nesting practices, floral specialization, and more.

Identifying Physical Characteristics

Hunt’s Bumble Bee is a medium to large-sized bumble bee with females averaging around 15–21 mm and males about 12–15 mm in length. They have distinctive coloring, typically featuring black and yellow patterns. The head and thorax are generally black, while the abdomen may display a mix of black and yellow bands. The tip of the abdomen usually has an orange hue, although variations can occur. The bees are covered in short, fine hairs which aid in pollen collection and thermoregulation (Williams et al., 2014).

Nesting Practices

Hunt’s Bumble Bees are ground-nesting species. They often select abandoned rodent burrows or other underground cavities for their nests. The nests are primarily built by the queen who will also lay her eggs inside it. She gathers pollen and nectar to feed her young, who will later become worker bees assisting in foraging, nest maintenance, and defense. A mature colony can consist of 100 to 400 individuals (Hatfield et al., 2015).

Floral Specialization

While Bombus huntii is a generalist forager, meaning it can forage on a variety of plant species, it does show preferences for certain types of flowers. Hunt’s Bumble Bees are particularly fond of plants in the Asteraceae family, such as sunflowers, and the Lamiaceae family, like mint (Koch et al., 2012). Their tongue length and mouthparts are adapted to allow for effective nectar extraction from a broad range of flower shapes.

Size and Region Locality

Hunt’s Bumble Bees are commonly found in the western United States, especially in regions like the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Western Slopes. They are also found in parts of Canada and Mexico. They primarily inhabit temperate grasslands, forests, and even suburban areas. Their elevation range is quite extensive, with sightings recorded from sea level to over 3,000 meters (Williams et al., 2014).


Understanding the life and habits of Hunt’s Bumble Bee not only adds to our knowledge of pollinators but also offers valuable insights into ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. These bees are crucial players in the plant-pollinator relationships that keep our landscapes lush and our agriculture flourishing. Efforts to conserve their habitats and promote sustainable ecosystems will benefit not just Bombus huntii but a multitude of other organisms that share their world.


  • Hatfield, R., Jepsen, S., Thorp, R., Richardson, L., Colla, S., & Foltz Jordan, S. (2015). “Bombus huntii, Hunt’s bumble bee.” The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Koch, J., Strange, J., & Williams, P. (2012). “Bumble Bees of the Western United States.” Pollinator Partnership.
  • Williams, P. H., Thorp, R. W., Richardson, L. L., & Colla, S. R. (2014). “Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide.” Princeton University Press.