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Bombus suckleyi Greene, 1860


Scientific Name: Bombus suckleyi Greene, 1860

Common Name: Suckley\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Cuckoo Bumble Bee


Bombus Suckleyi Greene, 1860: 169 [♂].

     Holotype ♂. USA, Washington, Puget’s Sound, by Dr. G. Suckley [presumed lost].

Psithyrus latitarsus Morrill, 1903: 224 [♀]. Synonymy by Frison (1926: 144).

     Holotype ♀. USA, Montana, Gallatin Co., by R.A. Cooley [NHC at the University of Massachusetts].


Taxonomic notes: Greene (1860: 169) indicated that the holotype ♂ of Bombus suckleyi Greene, 1869 was being kept in his cabinet; Franklin (1913a: 471), and Thorp et al. (1983: 49) indicated that it is probably lost. Apparently, the type specimen had been studied by Cresson (1863: 113) who indicated it was a ♂, not a ♀ (though Greene’s original desciption clearly indicated it was the former), and felt it was the male of B. insularis (Smith, 1861). Ashmead (1904: 136) also made reference to Greene’s species as a synonym under B. insularis (as Psithyrus insularis), though cited page 173, not 169, suggesting that he made an error and was referring to Bombus interruptus Greene, 1858, which was listed on that page (Greene 1860: 173) and is a preoccupied name [= B. insularis (see above)]. However, the ♀ of B. suckleyi had not yet described until done so by Morrill (1903: 224, as Psithyrus latitarsus Morrill, 1903) who also provided detailed illustrations comparing his species to the ♀ of B. insularis (page 226). Though Frison (1926: 144) made the synonymy of Psithyrus latitarsus Morrill, 1903, described from the ♀, under B. suckleyi, Franklin (1913a: 471) suspected as much, when he described both sexes of B. suckleyi, indicating that they had the same “habits”. He also noted the similarity of these two taxa to the ♂ and ♀ of B. ashtoni. Franklin (1926: 144) provided more detail supporting the synonymy, indicating that both B. suckleyi and P. latitarsus were the only other American taxa belonging to the ashtoni Group of Franklin, and for them not to be conspecific whould make the opposite sex of each “among the greatest of insect rarities.”

Franklin (1913a: 472) indicated that the colouration of the hair of pile on the pleura and scutellum of the ♂ of B. suckleyi did not vary much, unlike B. ashtoni [= B. bohemicus], which has been observed.

DNA Barcode Index Number (BIN): BOLD:ABY1164

Biology: Though Hobbs (1965a, b, 1966a, b, 1967, 1968) found B. suckleyi in the nests of six different subgenera of Bombus (though mainly Pyrobombus and Bombus s. str.), only Bombus occidentalis Greene, 1858 has been confirmed as a host (Thorp et al. 1983). However, the presence of B. suckleyi in eastern Canada (especially Newfoundland) suggests that B. terricola may also be a host, or other species.

Distribution in Canada: Franklin 1913a [BC, AB]; Gibson 1916 [MB, as P. latitarsus Morrill]; Thorp et al. 1983 [AK, NT, AB]; Blades and Maier 1996 [BC]; Turnock et al. 2006 [MB]; Elwell 2012 [BC]; Sheffield et al. 2014 [AB, SK, MB]; Williams et al. 2014 [AK, YT, NT, BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, PE, NS, NF]; Gibbs et al. 2023 [MB]; BOLD [YT, BC, SK, NF].

Earlier records of this species may include Vancouver’s Island [BC] by Cresson (1863: 113) as A[pathus]. insularis Smith, as Cresson felt B. suckleyi was a synonym. Though recorded from AK by Thorp et al. (1983: 50) and Williams et al. (2014: 163), these occurrences seem to be based on misidentified B. bohemicus Seidl, 1838 specimens.


Sheffield CS, Frier SD, Dumesh D (2014) The bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea, Apiformes) of the Prairies Ecozone, with comparisons to other grasslands of Canada. In: Giberson DJ, Cárcamo HA (Eds) Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands (Volume 4): Biodiversity and Systematics Part 2. 4. Biological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, 479 pp. [ISBN 978-0-9689321-7-9].

Gibbs J, Hanuschuk E, Miller R, Dubois M, Martini M, Robinson S, Nakagawa P, Sheffield CS, Onuferko T (2023) A checklist of the bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) of Manitoba, Canada. The Canadian Entomologist 155: E3.

Cresson ET (1863) List of the North American species of Bombus and Apathus. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Philadelphia 2: 83-116.

Morrill AW (1903) New Apoidea from Montana. The Canadian Entomologist 35(8): 222-226.

Williams PH, Thorp RW, Richardson LL, Colla SR (2014) Bumble Bees of North America. An Identification Guide. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 208 pp.

Gibson A (1916) The entomological record, 1915. Annual Report of the Entomological Society of Ontario 46: 194-230.

Elwell SL (2012) The effects of livestock grazing and habitat type on plant-pollinator communities of British Columbia’s Endangered Shrubsteppe. MSc Thesis, Simon Fraser University. X + 110 pp.

Greene JW (1860) Review of the American Bombidae, together with a description of several species heretofore undescribed, being a synopsis of the species of the family of hymenopterous insects thus far known to inhabit North America. Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History of New York 7(1): 168-176.

Thorp RW, Horning, DS, Dunning LL (1983) Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 23: 1-79.

Franklin HJ (1913a) The Bombidae of the New World. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 38(3/4): 177-486.

Sociality: Social Parasite
Nesting: Not Applicable
Pollen Specialization: Not Applicable
Wintering Stage: Adult

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

Distribution: Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon
Ecozone: Arctic, Atlantic Maritime, Boreal Cordillera, Boreal Plains, Boreal Shield, Hudson Plains, Mixwood Plains, Montane Cordillera, Newfoundland Boreal, Pacific Maritime, Prairie, Taiga Cordillera, Taiga Plains, Taiga Shield, Western Interior Basin

Female, sternum 6; lateral view
Female, sternum 6; lateral view

Distribution Map