The expanding Pacific Northwest range of Bombus impatiens Cresson and its establishment in Washington State
Bombus impatiens, the common eastern bumble bee, is the first bumble bee established outside of its native range in North America. Native to the eastern portion of the continent, the species was imported to British Columbia in the early 2000s for greenhouse pollination and subsequently became established in the wild. Here we report on the continuing expansion of its range in the Pacific Northwest, including the detection of gynes and workers in Washington State. Sightings of B. impatiens in the region have become increasingly common based on various Internet mapping and reporting sites. The species has been observed about 30 km south of the British Columbia border, or 60 km from the first British Columbia detections. Species distribution models indicate that the Puget Sound and Willamette Valley are suitable habitat, and the bee will likely continue to expand its range southward towards California. The potential impacts of B. impatiens in the region are unknown and will be monitored in future research.
KeywordsCommon eastern bumble bee Range expansion Pollinators Citizen science Commercial colonies
We thank Beth Chisholm (Whatcom County Master Gardener program coordinator), Caitie Blethen (San Juan County Master Gardener program coordinator), Eliza Habegger (San Juan County Land Bank) and numerous volunteers for deploying blue-vane traps. Rian Wojahn (WSDA) provided Japanese beetle bycatch for analysis. We thank Bumble Bee Watch, iNaturlist.org, and bugguide.net for supplying data, and are grateful for all of the volunteer participants who gathered those data.
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