The Hunt bumble bee, Bombus huntii, is in my book one of the most spectacular bumbles we have in Washington. Their colors can be so brilliant. Once you encounter and identify this species, you will rarely have difficult identifying other such individuals.
Field ID tips
At the photographic detail level, the field marks that distinguish the Hunt bumble bee, B. huntii are
- Scutum and scutellum yellow
- Wing band (alar) black
- T1 = Yellow
- T2 = Orange
- T3 = Orange
- T4 = Yellow
- T5 = Black
Again, once you encounter one I doubt you will find them confusing to separate from other species. Sometimes the colors are faded on a older individual (check wing condition for an estimate of age) so the patterns of color need to be noted.
The main species in Washington with a similar color pattern is the Forest bumble bee, Bombus sylvicola. Key differences between the two species are first: range. The Forest bumble bee is a high altitude specialist while the Hunt bumble is a lowland dry country specialist. Think Dry Falls State Park. The second key difference is on T5. The T5 on a female Hunt bumble bee is all black. The T5 on a Forest bumble will show yellow, possibly with a black notch.
Based on where the majority of the detections are in the map above, the Hunt bumble bee is very much a dry country / east side species.
T1 = yellow, T2, T3 = orange, T4 = yellow, T5 black. The abdominal segments are relatively easy to count off in these pictures.