Meet one of the world’s largest bumblebee species: Bombus dahlbomii. The only bumblebee native to southern South America, it’s called the giant Patagonian bumblebee or, by some, the “flying mouse.”

But the ginger-furred bees are in trouble: their numbers have dropped precipitously since farmers introduced domesticated European bumblebees to help pollinate crops. The imported bees likely brought diseases or are outcompeting the native bees for favored flowers. Chile’s government has added Bombus dahlbomii to its endangered list, but agriculture is big business and farmers continue to import European bees. Environmental advocates are pressing for more protections for these bees—but it may be too late.

Giant Patagonian bumblebee
Bombus dahlbomii
Queens about 1.2–1.4 inches (30–35 mm); worker females and males 0.5–0.7 inches (12 mm–17 mm)
Ecological Role
AMNH Specimen Number
AMNH_IZC 00328297
Concepción, Chile