Color Variation in Bees

Occasionally you run into a bee that looks like it should be one species, but has noticeable red, yellow, or white in an area that it wouldn't normally have. This can make identification difficult, and a great example of why you can't just focus on one field mark but have to look at the whole bee when making an identification.

What causes this?
Color variation is usually caused by damage to the bee during the larval stage. Can also be leucism (kind of partial albinism), or melanism.

Affected species?
Most commonly reported in Bombus impatiens, but many other Bombus species have been recorded with variations. Occasionally seen outside of Bombus.

Bombus impatiens melanistic Appearing to be a bimaculatus.

Bombus griseocollis Odd scutum spot.

Bombus bimaculatus

Bombus perplexus Dark form

Bombus ternarius Dark form. To the best of my knowledge this is the first this has ever been recorded in this species.

Bombus fervidus Leusistic Not a color variant, just weird hair loss making it appear to be something else.

Bombus affinis

Bombus pensylvanicus

Outside of Bombus:
Anthophora abrupta
At the time of writing this, there is no literature that mentions color variations for A abrupta, although I am aware of a paper being written. To the best of my knowledge, this observation was the first time this variation was noticed.

Xylocopa virginica

由使用者 neylon neylon2022年09月22日 21:08 所貼文




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