Brown-belted bumble bee. Photo: Ed Spevak

Adopt a Brown-belted Bumble Bee

The Missouri Prairie Foundation invites prairie supporters to symbolically adopt the brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis), one of thousands of species of plants and animals that live on Missouri’s prairies. Your donation helps the Missouri Prairie Foundation acquire and steward original, unplowed prairies and establish and maintain prairie plantings, which provide vitally important habitat to many prairie- and grassland-restricted plants and animals.

This colored pencil and chalk pastel drawing of a male brown-belted bumble bee was created by Katherine Fratti, a Missouri native, California-based artist, and donated to the Missouri Prairie Foundation.

As a thank you for your donation of $20 or more to symbolically adopt the brown-belted bumble bee, we will send you an informational card with a print of the artwork and a 3-inch magnet featuring the bumble bee art. 

While the loss of prairie in Missouri has been dramatic, MPF’s remnant prairies continue to provide vital habitat for a wealth of plants and animals. Learn more about the history of the prairie ecosystem in Missouri and peruse information about the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s prairies that are open to the public to enjoy on foot.

The brown-belted bumble bee is one of approximately 50 species of bumble bees in North America—10 of which have been documented in Missouri. The brown-belted bumble bee is an important pollinating insect. It has fur over its body, with yellow hairs on its thorax and part of the abdomen. Queens and workers have black hairs on their heads. Males have yellow or buff colored hairs on their heads and faces. A brown crescent marking (“belt”) is present on some queens, males, and female workers. Pollen clings to the fur as the bumble bee visits flowers, transferring it to other flowers of the same species, allowing pollination to occur. Male brown-belted bumble bees have larger eyes and more hair on the front of the face than females. 

Unfortunately, many bumble bee species and other pollinating insects are declining throughout their range due to loss of habitat, which is why the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s work to safeguard populations of native insects and other grassland- and prairie-dependent plants and animals is vitally important.

Like other bumble bees, the brown-belted bumble bee is a social insect with a reproductive queen and a caste of female workers and foragers. Bumble bees create wax pot nests for their eggs, which are usually located underground or in hollow logs, tufts of grass, spaces between rocks, abandoned bird nests, or other places. Learn more about Missouri’s native bumble bees in this Missouri Prairie Journal article on gardening for bumble bees by Dr. Ed Spevak of the Saint Louis Zoo. This bumble bee guide, Bumble Bees of the Eastern United States, by the U.S. Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership, is an excellent resource for identifying bumble bees. 

You can help support bumble bees, butterflies, songbirds, and other treasured wildlife at home by choosing native plants for landscaping in your yard or on your property. Adult bumble bees need nectar and pollen sources for food from spring through fall, so planting a variety of native plants with flowers of different sizes and bloom times will help support a variety of bumble bee species and other native bees.

Learn more: 

Native Bee-Plant Relationships on Missouri’s Prairies article by Mike Arduser in the Missouri Prairie Journal.

Find many resources for supporting pollinators with native plants at the Grow Native! webpage.