Bee ID

What kind of bee did I see?

No matter how well you can describe the bee you saw, we won’t have much chance to identify your bee unless you take a photo. A great way to get photos of bees, wasps, flies, plants, or any living thing identified is by uploading them to

I saw a bumble bee with a bright orange spot on its abdomen. Is it the endangered rusty patched bumble bee?

There are several other bumble bees with orange spots on their abdomen. The tri-colored bumble bee is one that is very common in the northern half of the state. The patch on the rusty patched can be subtle and more difficult to see. Please see ID hints for the rusty patched bumble bee.

What is the difference between bees and wasps?

Bees and wasps are closely related, but have several key differences. Bees tend to be fuzzier (officially, bees have branched, feather like hairs). Both bees and wasps are very diverse with a wide variety of sizes of colors. People most often confuse honey bees and yellow jackets. They are similar is size and coloration, but behave very differently. Read more information (.PDF).

Bee Identification Resources

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More than Bumble Bees (.pdf)

Bothered by Bees or Wasps? (.pdf)

Guide to Minnesota Bumble Bees (.pdf)