Las Pilitas Nursery

California Native Plants are all we grow!

Blog Contact Us Directions

3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453
Fri. & Sat. from 9am-4pm
8331 Nelson Way
Escondido, CA 92026
Tues. to Sat. from 9am-4pm

Shop For Plants Cart Contents

This website is dedicated to Bert Wilson. His genius continues to inspire us.

Yellow-faced Bumble Bee,  Bombus vosnesenskii


The yellow faced Bumblebee is a fat black bee that is relatively slow and easy to photograph. A couple of time I thought the bee was dead, no, just slow.
Bombus vosnesenskii lives from about San Diego throughout most of California(except the desert areas), a little into Nevada around Reno,  through Oregon, Washington up into Osoyoos British Columbia.
This bumblebee is largely as summer bee with most of the hive living from April to September and is the most common bumblebee of California. Bombus caliginosus is very similar and very hard to tell apart, even if you have a dead bee in hand. Since we're trying encourage people to plant plants to save them, a pin through the middle of them seems to be a buzz killer.
Bombus vosnesenskii bumblebee on a plum flower, probably a Queen. - grid24_12

Yellow-faced Bumble Bee,  Bombus vosnesenskii- Female

(or maybe Bombus caliginosus, or even Bombus californicus, see note.)
Imagine your whole life in a few months, everything accelerated. We must seem as slow as a tree to them.
This bumblebee nests in the ground, commonly in old gopher holes.We had a large colony in the pile of fifteen gallon pots. The bees flew in through the drainage hole and filled about half of a bucket. We heard them for the whole summer, but didn't figure out what was happening until the next winter when we used some of the pots and found the old nest.
Bumble bees have a wicked sting, and they can sting repeatedly. BUT, I've only been stung when I stepped on one bare footed and when I had one land on my neck and I smashed it. Both times the bee lived, I didn't.
Nectar sources include, (not limited to), Arbutus, Agastache, Arctostaphylos, Astragalus, AsterBrodiaea, Berberis(Mahonia), Castilleja, Ceanothus, Cercis, Chrysothamnus, Cirsium, Clarkia, Crataegus, Dicentra, Epilobium, Eriastrum, Eriogonum, Eschscholzia, Grindelia, Helenium, Heteromeles, Horkelia, Iris, Isomeris, Malacothamnus, Marah, Mentha, Mimulus, Monardella, Nama, Orthocarpus, Penstemon, PhaceliaPotentilla, Prosopis, Prunella, Prunus, Ranunculus, Rhamnus, Rhododendron, Rhus, Ribes, Salix, Salvia, Senecio, Sidalcea, Solidago, SphaeralceaSymphoricarpos, Trichostema, Trifolium, Vicia, Wyethia
Forage probably ranges over 500 meters, with mean about 275 meters(.Osborne et. al. 1999)
Syn. Bremus vosnesenskii, Bombus columbicus

Osborne, et. al. 1999, A landscape-scale study of bumble bee foraging range and constancy, using harmonic radar.   Journal of Applied Ecology, 36, 519-533
Thorp, Robbin W., & Horning, Donald S. & Dunning, Lorry L.  1983  Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera, Apidae) / by Robbin W. Thorp, Donald S. Horing, Jr., Lorry L. Dunning  University of California Press, Berkeley.
Bombus vosnesenskii bumblebee on a plum flowers, this one is probably a queen. - grid24_12
On a Santa Rosa Plum
Yellow-faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii on a Arctostaphylos Austin Griffin - grid24_12
Yellow-faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii on one of our Arctostaphylos Austin Griffin manzanita in January
Side view of Yellow-faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii on one of our Arctostaphylos Austin Griffin manzanita in January  - grid24_12
Side view of Yellow-faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii on one of our Arctostaphylos Austin Griffin manzanita in January. These Bumblebees are big, the size of a large grape or small date.
black bumblebee with two yellow stips on butt - Bombus vosnesenskii  - grid24_6
Black bumblebees with two yellow strips on butt - Male Bombus vosnesenskii . See what I mean about how the same look different, but the different look the same?
Bombus vosnesenskii visiting a Salvia Alpine flower in the Santa Margarita native garden. - grid24_12
Yellow-faced Bumble Bee, Bombus vosnesenskii working the flowers of Alpine Cleveland sage