Fuzzy horned bumblebee (Bombus mixtus)
Grand Teton National Park is home to Bombus mixtus. They inhabit open grassy areas, chaparral and shrub locations, and mountain meadows. These bees have a medium tongue length and are considered generalists, meaning they do not specialize their diet. Their food sources range from Phacelia and Monardella to Rhododendron and Senecio species. These species of flowers take on different petal shapes, from long and tubular to flat and disc-like.
While it is possible to classify bumblebees based on their more obvious traits, microscopic characteristics — small notches on mandibles, lengths of antennal segments, hairs that may or may not be present on the tibia vary by species, etc. — are important in identifying bumblebee species (Williams, Thorp, Richardson, & Colla, 2014, p.78). B. mixtus may be confused with B. frigidus, B. balteatus and B. melanopygus when identifying because all of these bumblebees have a very similar coloration pattern, square cheeks, and a rounded angle on the midleg. These last two traits are better seen using a microscope.
Written by Anna Cressman
PC: USFWS – Pacific Region on Flickr https://flic.kr/p/BmYWCj