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Bombus dahlbomii is a species of bumblebee endemic to South America, where it is the only native bumblebee of the temperate forests. The queen of this species is the largest bumblebee in the world at up to 40 mm long. The species has been described as "flying mice" and "a monstrous fluffy ginger beast".
This bee was once widespread in Patagonia, and the only bumblebee species in the region. The decline of its populations started around 2006, coinciding with the first reports of Bombus terrestris in the area. The latter had been introduced to Chile in 1997 to serve as an agricultural pollinator. Nearly half of B. terrestris individuals sampled in Patagonia are infested with the parasitic protozoan Apicystis bombi, and researchers suspect the parasite could play a large part in the decline of B. dahlbomii. Other causes may include competition with the introduced bee for food.
B. dahlbomii is an important insect in local ecosystems, such as the Maulino forest of central Chile. There, it is a major pollinator of native plants such as Lapageria rosea. In Patagonia it is an important pollinator of Alstroemeria aurea.
- Martínez-Harms, J., et al. (2010). Can red flowers be conspicuous to bees? Bombus dahlbomii and South American temperate forest flowers as a case in point. The Journal of Experimental Biology 213(4), 564-71.
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- Johnston, Ian (6 July 2014). "Bye bye big bee: In South America, the world's largest bumblebee is at risk from imported rivals". The Independent. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
- Murúa, M. M., et al. (2011). Changes in wing length in the pollinator Bombus dahlbomii occurring with the fragmentation of the Maulino forest, Chile. Ciencia e Investigación Agraria 38(3), 391-96.
- Morales, C. L., et al. (2004). Potential displacement of the native bumblebee Bombus dahlbomii by the invasive Bombus ruderatus in NW Patagonia, Argentina. In: Proceedings of the 8th IBRA International Conference on Tropical Bees and VI Encontro sobre Abelhas, Ribeirão Preto, Brasil, September 6–10, 2004. (pp. 70-76).