E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Bombus impatiens Cresson 1863
Common Eastern Bumble Bee
Family: Apidae

© Gordana Markovic  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #60833)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Bombus impatiens in British Columbia
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The Common Eastern Bumble Bee is ground-nesting species that is often found in large colonies of up to 450 workers (Beespotter 2011). It is native to eastern North America, where it is found "basically east of the 100th Meridian (maybe the 103rd)" (Thorp pers.comm. 2012). While some bumble bee species (e.g. Bombus occidentalis and Bombus affinis) have declined throughout their range, Bombus impatiens, by contrast, has increased in abundance in Canada (Ratti and Colla 2010).

Additionally, Bombus impatiens is now used as a greenhouse pollinator, and this has led to escape and establishment in some areas. Ratti and Colla (2010) provide some insights into this: "In recent decades, bumble bees have been domesticated in North America to pollinate greenhouse and field crops such as tomato and sweet pepper (Velthuis & van Doorn 2006). Initially two species were reared commercially for this purpose; B. occidentalis in the west and B. impatiens in the east (Whittington & Winston 2004). After an apparent collapse of both managed and wild B. occidentalis populations, B. impatiens has since been used in parts of western North America to meet greenhouse pollination needs (Evans et al. 2009, Whittington & Winston 2004)."

This species was reported by Ratti and Colli (2010) as present in fields outside of greenhouses in the Fraser Valley in 2003 and 2004. Cannings (2011) indicates that it has been brought into BC for pollination since 1999 and escaped from greenhouses, and is now established. Photo documentation of this species occurrence in BC is provided in the E-Fauna BC photo gallery.

Editor's Note:

Bumble bee researchers are working to further document this species' establishment in BC and the photos provided in the E-Fauna photo gallery can aid in this research. In particular, if additional detail is provided with each photo, this will be useful to the research. Researcher Robbin Thorp says: "If the [E-Fauna] photographers can provide any information as to the distance of [their] sighting from the nearest tomato greenhouses this would be extremely useful information as well."

Recommended References:

Ratti, Claudia M. and Sheila R. Colla. 2010. Discussion of the presence of an eastern bumble bee species (Bombus impatiens Cresson) in western Canada. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 86(2):29–31.

Vernal pool flowers and their specialist bee pollinators (by Robbin Thorp)

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
ExoticSNAExoticNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2019. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2020-04-05 7:12:36 PM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

© E-Fauna BC: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC