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Yellow-banded Bumble Bee is a medium-sized bumble bee with a short head. It has yellow hair on the second and third segments of the abdomen, as well as a band of yellow hair across the thorax in front of the base of the wings. The rest of its body is primarily black, except for a fringe of brownish-yellow hairs on the fifth segment of the abdomen.

Length: Female queens, 1.9 to 2.1 cm (0.75 to 0.83 in); Female workers, 1.0 to 1.5 cm (0.39 to 0.59 in); Males, 1.3 to 1.5 cm (0.51 to 0.59 in)

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There are 24 known native bumble bee species in the NWT. Check out the Field Guide to Bumble Bees of the Northwest Territories 


The Yellow-banded Bumble Bee is found in the northern United States and much of Canada, from eastern British Columbia, southeast Yukon and the Northwest Territories eastward through to Newfoundland and Labrador. The Yellow-banded Bumble Bee was recently found in Inuvik. This was the first time it had been documented so far north.

Range map information

Yellow-banded Bumble Bees use a wide range of habitats, as long as flowers and nest sites are available. The colony usually nests underground in pre-existing cavities like abandoned rodent burrows and rotten logs. The queens overwinter in loose soil or rotting trees.

A number of important food plants in the NWT, including cranberries and blueberries, rely on bumble bees for pollination.

Yellow-banded Bumble Bee was once one of the most common bumble bee species in Canada, but since the early 1990s there have been significant population declines across southern and central Canada. Reasons for the population declines are unclear but they are probably due to a combination of factors such as diseases and parasites introduced from managed bumble bees used in greenhouses, pesticide use, climate change and habitat loss.

In the NWT, the Yellow-banded Bumble Bee is still one of the most commonly encountered bumble bees and there is no evidence of declines.

Potential threats in the Northwest Territories include the use of pesticides and herbicides and the introduction of exotic bumble bee species for pollination, which can spread diseases to native bees. At high densities, imported honey bees can outcompete native bumble bees for pollen.

The NWT Species at Risk Committee assessed Yellow-banded Bumble Bee as Not at Risk in the NWT in 2019. However, it is still a species at risk in Canada. COSEWIC assessed Yellow-banded Bumble Bee as a species of Special Concern in 2015, and it was listed as Special Concern under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2018.

A national management plan for Yellow-banded Bumble Bee is available on the federal Species at Risk Public Registry.

Dehcho Gwich'in Inuvialuit North Slave / Tłı̨chǫ Sahtú South Slave