Species Identification
Franklin's Bumble Bee

Image - Illustrations of three bumble bee species (Courtesy of Elaine Evans, Xerces Society).

Some distinguishing characteristics of the Franklin’s bumble bee include:

• Extended yellow coloration on their middle, between the head and abdomen, which extends well beyond the
wing bases and forms an inverted U-shape around the central patch of black;
• A lack of yellow on the abdomen;
• A predominantly black face with yellow on the top of the head; and
• White coloration at the tip of the abdomen.

Other bumble bees with similar coloration in the range of the Franklin’s bumble bee have the yellow coloration
extending back to the wing bases or only slightly beyond, and usually have one or more bands of yellow either
on the middle or slightly behind the middle of the abdomen. Females of most species have yellow
pubescence—fine hair-like structures on the face—in contrast to black on the Franklin’s bumble bee. Females
of the western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis) and B. californicus that have black pubescence on the face
also have the same coloration on the vertex—the top or crown of the head—in contrast to the yellow
pubescence on the vertex in the Franklin’s bumble bee. Females of B. californicus have a long face in contrast
to the round face of the Franklin’s bumble bee and the western bumble bee.