The bumble bees of the Kashmir Himalaya (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Bombini)

Williams, P. H. (1991)
Bulletin of The British Museum of Natural History (Entomology), 60: 1-204.



Bumble bees are extraordinarily variable in the colour patterns of their pubescence. This has contributed to the lack of agreement among authors concerning the discrimination of species. Material from Kashmir has been listed previously under 80 names, but for the broadest interpretations of these species, more than 500 names have been published for differing individuals from throughout their distributions. In this review, all of the available voucher material from Kashmir (6312 museum specimens from 78 sites) is assigned to just 29 species. The reduction in the number of nominal taxa that are inferred to represent separate species depends on two factors. First, variation is examined among the larger samples of new material. Second, current species concepts require a re-assessment of this evidence for the limits of reproductive cohesion in space and time. A particular study is made of the variation in male mate-searching behaviour and of its relationship to the different kinds of habitat. For Bombus asiaticus, patterns of colour variation across the Great Himalaya are compared with those expected from simple genetic models. Type material is examined for 103 of the nominal specific and subspecific taxa. Seventeen lectotypes are designated and 80 new synonyms and provisional new synonyms are established. Keys to the species are accompanied by diagrams of the colour patterns and by distribution maps.