Species Profile

Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee

Scientific Name: Bombus bohemicus
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
COSEWIC Range: Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2014
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: A2abce
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This large and distinctive bee is a nest parasite of other bumble bees. It had an extensive range in Canada and has been recorded from all provinces and territories except Nunavut. Although not known to be abundant, there has been a large observed decline in relative abundance in the past 20-30 years in areas of Canada where the species was once common, with the most recent records coming from Nova Scotia (2002), Ontario (2008) and Québec (2008). Significant search effort throughout Canada in recent years has failed to detect this species, even where its hosts are still relatively abundant. Primary threats include decline of hosts (Rusty-patched Bumble Bee, Yellow-banded Bumble Bee, and Western Bumble Bee), pesticide use (particularly neonicotinoids), and the escape of non-native, pathogen-infected bumble bees from commercial greenhouses.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in May 2014.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2018-05-30

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Description

Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Bombus bohemicus) is one of six cuckoo bumble bees (subgenus Psithyrus) occurring in North America. Both sexes are medium-sized (12 – 18 mm length), with a white-tipped abdomen and similar colour pattern. Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee is an obligate social parasite of bumble bees of the subgenus Bombus in North America, including the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee (B. affinis) (assessed Endangered by COSEWIC), Yellow-banded Bumble Bee (B. terricola) and Western Bumble Bee (B. occidentalis) (both currently being assessed by COSEWIC). Cryptic Bumble Bee (B. cruptarum) may also serve as a host. Due to recent analysis of DNA barcode and morphological data, the formerly recognized species Bombus ashtoni was found to be conspecific with the widespread Old World species Bombus bohemicus. [Updated by COSEWIC - May. 2014]

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Distribution and Population

Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee is a holarctic species, occurring throughout most of Europe (except Iceland) and extreme southwestern Europe and parts of north and central Asia. In Canada, Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee has been recorded in every province and territory except Nunavut. Canadian records are from 1883 to 2008, the most recent records being from Pinery Provincial Park in Ontario (2008) and Parc national des Monts-Valin in Quebec (2008). Since 1991, the species has only been recorded from three provinces: Ontario (67 specimens), Quebec (39 specimens) and Nova Scotia (18 specimens). Despite high search effort in recent years (2001 – 2013), only 42 specimens of Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee have been recorded. The species distribution is partially determined by the distribution and abundance of its host bumble bee species. Recent surveys at historically occupied sites have recorded no specimens. Historical abundance data on Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee are available for only a fraction of the species Canadian range (mainly southern Ontario and Manitoba). The species has not been recorded at many sites surveyed within the last four decades, even where its hosts remain present. [Updated by COSEWIC - May. 2014]

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Habitat

Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee occurs in diverse habitats, including open meadows, mixed farmlands, urban areas, boreal forest and montane meadows. The species feeds on pollen and nectar from a variety of plant genera. Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee emerges slightly later than host queens, and parasitizes host nests in the spring. Host nests occur in abandoned underground rodent burrows and rotten logs. [Updated by COSEWIC - May. 2014]

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Biology

Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee is a social parasite, and does not have the typical eusocial colony cycle of other bumble bees, and therefore does not produce workers. Mated females emerge in the spring and look for potential host nests. The female kills or subdues the host queen and lays eggs that the host colony workers tend. In the late summer and autumn, females and males emerge from the host nest and leave to mate with conspecifics. Mated females then select an overwintering site. Like other bumble bees, the males and the egg-laying female of that generation die at the onset of cold weather. [Updated by COSEWIC - May. 2014]

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Threats

The most likely threat to Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee is the decline of two of the host species, especially Rusty-patched Bumble Bee in eastern Canada and Western Bumble Bee in western Canada. The third host, Yellow-banded Bumble Bee, is more widespread although may also be declining in parts of its range. At regional scales, pesticide use, pathogen spillover and habitat loss are probable threats. [Updated by COSEWIC - May. 2014]

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

9 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee Bombus bohemicus in Canada (2015-01-06)

    Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Bombus bohemicus) is one of six cuckoo bumble bees (subgenus Psithyrus) occurring in North America. Both sexes are medium-sized (12 – 18 mm length), with a white-tipped abdomen and similar colour pattern. Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee is an obligate social parasite of bumble bees of the subgenus Bombus in North America, including the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee (B. affinis) (assessed Endangered by COSEWIC), Yellow-banded Bumble Bee (B. terricola) and Western Bumble Bee (B. occidentalis) (both currently being assessed by COSEWIC). Cryptic Bumble Bee (B. cruptarum) may also serve as a host. Due to recent analysis of DNA barcode and morphological data, the formerly recognized species Bombus ashtoni was found to be conspecific with the widespread Old World species Bombus bohemicus.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee (2015-01-13)

    This large and distinctive bee is a nest parasite of other bumble bees. It had an extensive range in Canada and has been recorded from all provinces and territories except Nunavut. Although not known to be abundant, there has been a large observed decline in relative abundance in the past 20-30 years in areas of Canada where the species was once common, with the most recent records coming from Nova Scotia (2002), Ontario (2008) and Québec (2008). Significant search effort throughout Canada in recent years has failed to detect this species, even where its hosts are still relatively abundant. Primary threats include decline of hosts (Rusty-patched Bumble Bee, Yellow-banded Bumble Bee, and Western Bumble Bee), pesticide use (particularly neonicotinoids), and the escape of non-native, pathogen-infected bumble bees from commercial greenhouses.

Orders

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2013-2014 (2014-10-15)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species". COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 0 Endangered: 23 Threatened: 12 Special Concern: 20 Data Deficient: 0 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#GLA-2018-28379), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2018-06-13)

    Blue vane traps will be deployed for inventory and habitat information gathering for bees, including bees of concern (for example, Yellow-banded Bumble Bee, Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee, and Western Bumble Bee) and Vivid Dancer damselfly. Expected outcomes include a list of bumble bees and associated collection sites, a list of solitary bees and collection sites, presence/not detected inventory for Vivid Dancer at thermal and cool springs and freshwater habitats, and associated habitat descriptions if the species is recorded.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#JNP-2018-29299), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2018-07-15)

    Bumble bees are often the dominant insect pollinator species in arctic and high elevation nearctic ecosystems because they have hairy and robust bodies and perform buzzing behaviors that vibrate flight muscles to produce heat. These attributes allow them to tolerate colder temperatures than many other insect species. Some bumble bee species in North America are decreasing in abundance and genetic diversity at an increasing rate. Despite this, there is a paucity of data on the current and historical population structure within most species. This study will measure current and historical population structure throughout the range of several bumble bee species using newly collected and museum specimens. The project will involve capture and killing of individuals.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act : Terrestrial Species - January 2015 (2015-01-13)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments byApril 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website

Related Information

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) Listing Plan 2016 to 2018 (2017-09-29)

    The status of wildlife species is assessed by an independent panel of expert Canadian scientists, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 149 terrestrial species were assessed as at-risk by COSEWIC between 2009 and 2016 and are eligible for listing under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to be considered by the Governor-in-Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment: 86 species would be new additions, 54 currently listed species would be reclassified and 9 species would be updated to reflect changes in their recognized designatable units. A three-year listing plan has been developed to address all 149 terrestrial species and listing decisions for most species are anticipated by the end of 2018. Making amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA is a two-step process. The first step is for the GIC to propose an amendment through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. The second step is for the GIC to make a final decision on whether or not to make amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA, taking into consideration comments received during the 30-day public comment period. The amendments are made through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Both orders are accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) which presents the implications of listing the species or changing their status. Publishing this plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency about the Government of Canada’s plan to make listing decisions under the Species at Risk Act. NOTE: The information presented below is intended to provide openness and transparency with respect to when terrestrial species might be considered for listing under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. It is intended to assist anyone who may wish to provide comments on such listing considerations. Given any number of factors can affect the timing of a listing decision; the Plan is subject to change. Accordingly, the Plan will be periodically updated.
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