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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis)



Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis), listed as Federally Endangered and Special Concern in Wisconsin, is extremely rare in Wisconsin and is considered both state- and globally-imperiled. This bee relies on diverse and abundant flowering plant species in proximity to suitable overwintering sites for hibernating queens. Overwintering habitat includes but is not limited to non-compacted and often sandy soils or woodlands but does not include wetlands. Suitable active season habitat includes but is not limited to prairies, woodlands, marshes/wetlands, agricultural landscapes and residential parks and gardens. Nectar plants include Aesculus (buckeye), Agastache (hyssops), Asters, Helianthus (sunflowers), Lonicera (honeysuckles), Monarda (bee balms), Physotegia (obedient plant), Prunus (plums/cherries), Solidago (goldenrods), and Vaccinium (blueberry). Queens emerge from hibernation in April and the colony is active through October. In Wisconsin, recent observation are mostly from the southern half of the state.

The USFWS has created a Rusty Patched Bumble Bee High Potential Zone to show where there is a high likelihood for the species to be present. If a project overlaps with this zone then steps should be taken to determine if suitable habitat is present for the bee and if necessary surveys can be conducted. Shapefiles of the zone can be found on the FWS bee guidance page.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Bombus affinis in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/FL
Federal Status in WisconsinLE
State RankS1
Global RankG1
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

The USFWS has put together guidance documents that can be followed to determine if suitable habitat is present on site and the next steps to take if you believe your project may impact the bee.

Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory Screening Guidance for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee [PDF]



Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

Photo © Susan Carpenter.

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

Photo © Susan Carpenter.

Last revised: Wednesday, November 07, 2018