Bombus fraternus

Southern Plains Bumble Bee

FWS Focus



The southern plains bumble bee can be found from the southeast to the plains and midwest of the United States. In July 2022, a petition to list the species as endangered under the Endangered Species Act was received by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Historically, the southern plains bumble bee has broad distribution and had been found in 26 states. The species inhabits open prairies, meadows and grasslands of the midwest, mid-Atlantic states and the plains states from Texas to North Dakota, as well as to the grasslands and pine savannas of Florida and the southeast.

This large, black and yellow bumble bee has short hair and a short head compared to other bumble bee species. Sometimes, the head and thorax between the wings can be extensively yellow. Queens can be an inch long. This social species has an annual lifecycle that starts in early spring when colonies are initiated by solitary queens that emerge from overwintering sites in March or April. This cycle progresses with the production of workers throughout the summer and ends with the production of males and new queens in late summer and early fall. Survival and successful recruitment require food (nectar and pollen) from floral resources from early spring through fall, nesting habitat in proximity to foraging resources and overwintering habitat for the next year’s queens.

Scientific Name

Bombus fraternus
Common Name
Southern plains bumble bee
Southern Plains Bumblebee

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers




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