Subgenus Pyrobombus - Bombus cockerelli
Otero County, New Mexico
 July, 2018

Doug Yanega [1]: Very rare. Up until Karen Wright discovered a good series in TAMU, it was known from fewer than 40 specimens. Known range is about 80 square miles. These photos are of a single worker taken on 07-02-2018

Bombus cockerelli is a typical bumblebee in appearance, with queens 15–20 mm (0.6–0.8 in) long, and distinctly smaller workers. The queens and workers are black on the head, with a few pale yellow hairs. The anterior and posterior thorax and the two basal and two terminal abdominal segments are yellow, while abdominal segments 3 and 4 are black. Males are unknown.

The bee was first described in 1913, based on six specimens collected near the Rio Ruidoso in New Mexico. Between 1956 and 2011, not even one was seen. For a time, this bee was believed to be just a subspecies and not a full species. However, given access to fresh specimens whose genetic material can be analyzed, it is expected that it will now be possible to determine whether it is a true species.

[1] University of California  Department of Entomology  Riverside, CA 92521-0314
digital images Bob Barber