The Search for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

Become a Citizen Scientist Today!

The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (RPBB) is a federally endangered Bumble Bee species that is native to the Eastern United States and was once found throughout the forests of the Appalachian Mountains, including the Southern Appalachians. This species is unique in that it spends a lot of its time in the forest, although in the summer and fall they do venture out into the open at forest edges to follow the blooming wildflowers. RPBB is the first bumble bee species to emerge in the Spring and the last species to go into hibernation in the Fall.

Though once widespread, this species has seen a significant decline over the past 20 years and has not been seen in North Carolina since 1994 outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The species also has not been seen in GSMNP since 2001. For this reason, we are asking for your help to give us a chance to re-discover this species in the Southern Appalachians so that the proper actions can be taken to make sure we conserve this species’ habitat and give the RPBB a chance to recover in our our region. In addition to the noble effort to search for this disappearing species, this project will help us learn more about the plight of other Bumble Bee species that may be following the same trajectory and give us the opportunity to learn how to prevent any other species from disappearing from the Southern Appalachians. See resources below for how to get started!


Resources for Citizen Scientists

Citizen Science Protocol Document

Bumble Bees of the Eastern U.S. Guide

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Info Sheet

Taking Identifiable Photos for Identification


Updates from the iNaturalist Project