Franklin’s bumblebee

North America


Bombus franklini


  • Commercialisation of bumblebee colonies
  • Exposure to exotic diseases
  • Pesticide toxicity

Franklin’s Bumblebee, an invertebrate species that lives exclusively in a small area between northern California and southern Oregon in the US, is one of the rarest bumblebees in the world. Its solid black abdomen and bright yellow U-shaped patch on its thorax are its defining characteristics that separate it from other bumblebees.

As greenhouses need bumblebee colonies for crop pollination, this has made the Franklin’s Bumblebee species vulnerable to captivity for that sole purpose. For the past two decades, the commercialisation of bumblebees in North America made the native colonies susceptible to exotic diseases. Though not all are lethal, it caused a pathogen spill-over which affect the bumblebees’ health, foraging abilities, and number of offspring produced.

The use of pesticides and other chemicals for agricultural purposes also exposed the bumblebees to fatal poison, making it difficult to increase its number. Its last confirmed sighting was in 2006.