Nevada bumblebee (Bombus nevadensis)

A bumblebee with a fuzzy orange back and big waxy wings rests on a weedy flower

Nevada bumblebee (Bombus nevadensis)

The Nevada bumblebee has a very wide geographic range in the Mountain West region. Like other species of bees, their coloration may differ depending on their location. For example, B. nevadensis has a darker coloration in females, with a black band that spans across the thorax from wing to wing, with a black tail which is typically confined to Vancouver Island. In other females found in Northern California, they have an orange coloring on the metasoma, or abdomen (Williams, Thorp, Richardson, & Colla, 2014, p. 152). In addition to their coloration, other characteristics are important to consider when identifying species. B. nevadensis is known for having a long proboscis, or tongue. Because of this adaptation, it can reach the nectar in long, tube-like flowers, such as Penstemon and Monarda.

But with climate change, are long tongued bees at risk? A study performed by Dr. Nicole Miller-Struttman and colleagues revealed shrinking tongue lengths in two species of bumblebees in the Rocky Mountains! They suggested that climate change has been affecting the floral resources, thus shifting the specialized diet that long tongued bees have. Because fewer long-tubed flowers are growing in the mountains, long-tongued bees were forced to supplement their diets with other available resources, minimizing the need for the long-tonged trait (Yong, 2015). Climate change may be causing mismatches between our plants and pollinators.

Check out this article for more information on long-tongued bees!

Written by Anna Cressman
PC: Anna Cressman