Undergraduate researchers find rare western bumblebee


A white-rumped bumblebee that has been in steep decline across its native range in the western United States and Canada appears to be making a comeback on the Colorado Front Range.

A survey of bumblebee populations carried out largely by University of Colorado Boulder undergraduates in undisturbed patches of prairieland and in mountain meadows above campus has turned up more than 20 rare western bumblebees, known scientifically as Bombus occidentalis.

This is the fourth summer of a planned five-year survey in Boulder County, led by biologists Carol Kearns and Diana Oliveras, both of whom teach in CU-Boulder’s Baker Residential Academic Program. The survey team, which this summer included five undergraduates along with Oliveras and Kearns, has been hunting bumblebees at nine different locations spanning low, middle and high elevations.

Learn more about the bumblebee survey.

Learn more about the return of the western bumblebee.