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A western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis) hangs upside down as it collects nectar from a yellow blossom.
Western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis). (Photo: Xerces Society / Rich Hatfield)

Bumble bees are important pollinators of wild flowering plants and agricultural crops. They are able to fly in cooler temperatures and lower light levels than many other bees, making them excellent pollinators—especially at higher elevations and latitudes. They also perform a behavior called “buzz pollination,” in which the bee grabs the flower in her jaws and vibrates her wing muscles to dislodge pollen from the flower. Many plants, including a number of wildflowers and crops like tomatoes, peppers, and cranberries, benefit from buzz pollination.

Because they are essential pollinators, loss of bumble bees can have far ranging ecological consequences. Alarmingly, recent work by the Xerces Society in concert with IUCN Bumble Bee Specialist Group, indicates that some species have experienced rapid and dramatic declines more than others. In fact, more than one quarter (28%) of all North American bumble bees are facing some degree of extinction risk. While some species have received considerable conservation attention, other species such as the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee and the variable cuckoo bumble bee have been largely overlooked.

For information about our efforts to conserve the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis), please see its profile page and check out this story map.

Learn More

Learn about Bumble Bees

Learn about the life cycle, foraging, and pollination techniques that make bumble bees truly unique!

Threats & Conservation Efforts

Bumble bees face many threats including habitat loss, disease, pesticide use, and climate change. Learn more about their needs and what we’re doing to help.

Species at Risk

View detailed profiles of bumble bee species compiled by the Xerces Society and partners.

How You Can Help

From contributing to community science projects to managing your landscape to protect and support pollinators, there are many ways to contribute to bumble bee conservation.

Bumble Bee Nesting & Overwintering

Discovering a bumble bee nest, or unearthing a queen bumble bee from hibernation is an exciting experience! This page provides details on overwintering queen bumble bees and bumble bee nests, including background biology.

More to Explore

Bumble Bee Watch

Everyone is invited to contribute to this important community science effort.

The IUCN SSC Bumble Bee Specialist Group

Assessing the status of all bumblebee species and promoting bumble bee conservation around the globe.

Managing Habitat for Pollinators

Find resources to identify, protect, and manage habitat for pollinators.

The Risks of Pesticides to Pollinators

Find alternative methods of pest control that also support healthy pollinator populations.

Bumble Bee Identification

Learn how to I.D. bumble bees and record observation data.

Pollinator Conservation Resource Center

Find region-specific resources to support pollinators in your landscape.