A bumblebee is any member of the bee genus Bombus, in the family Apidae. There are
over 250 known species, existing primarily in the Northern Hemisphere although
they also occur in South America. They have been introduced to New Zealand and the
Australian state of Tasmania.
Bumblebees are social insects that are characterized by black and yellow body hairs,
often in bands. However, some species have orange or red on their bodies, or may
be entirely black. Another obvious (but not unique) characteristic is the soft
nature of the hair (long, branched setae), called pile, that covers their entire
body, making them appear and feel fuzzy. They are best distinguished from similarly
large, fuzzy bees by the form of the female hind leg, which is modified to form a
corbicula: a shiny concave surface that is bare, but surrounded by a fringe of hairs
used to transport pollen (in similar bees, the hind leg is completely hairy, and
pollen grains are wedged into the hairs for transport).
Like their relatives the honey bees, bumblebees feed on nectar and gather pollen
to feed their young.