Date posted: 9/7/2011
Mid- to late August has been an exciting time this year at BeeSpotter. First of all, for the fourth year in a row, BeeSpotters in northern Illinois have submitted images of Bombus affinis, which is a bee that declined seriously in North America in past years. (Be sure to read the article we posted in 2008 when the first affinis spotting was recorded as well as the article about the affinis spotting in 2009 by the same person! Note: we also had affinis spottings last year, but sadly, did not get an article written at that time)
And second, BeeSpotters in a couple of different localities, near Rockford and Carpentersville, submitted photos of the red-belted bumble bee, Bombus rufocinctus. This is a bee that was found in Illinois from 1900 to 1949 but could not be found in the state from 1950 through 1999, despite extensive sampling. Between 2000 and 2007, however, B. rufocinctus once again has been found in Illinois (Grixti et al. 2009, Biological Conservation 142: 75-84). This may mean that B. rufocinctus is making a comeback, and the efforts of our Illinois BeeSpotters will be invaluable in tracking the status of this bee.
You can view the photos of B. rufocinctus uploaded by two of our bee spotters here: