B. sandersoni vs. vagans - again
In my fourth year of identifying bees (and after taking the bee id course from Sam Droege in 2009) , I am still having trouble with the bumblebees. Here are some characters from a series of 9 Bombus (which I believe to be sandersoni or vagans) sitting in front of me:
black spot on thorax - large in all 9
facial hair - all 9 have all black behind the antennae (discounting the short yellow fuzz)
top of head - all have black in front with yellow in back behind the ocelli - except two, which are all black
hair on T5 - three have some yellow; the others are all black
malar space - short in three, equal in three, and long in four
All have T1 and T2 yellow and the other terga black except as noted above. There is no relationship between which appear to have short malar spaces and which have yellow on T5.
I know John Ascher says the malar space is the most reliable character. Perhaps I need more instruction on how to measure it vs. the width of the mandibular attachment. The photo of a long malar space on the DiscoverLife site isn't terribly helpful, as the mandible is open, making the space look very long compared to the other photos with the mandible closed.
Thanks for any help!
Barbara J Abraham, PhD
SEEDS Chapter Advisor
Department of Biological Sciences
Hampton, Va 23668
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