If one taxonomic error is repeated in the media more than any other, it is the inability to distinguish between honey bees, Apis mellifera, and bumble bees, about 250 species in the genus Bombus. Such errors are frustratingly common for insects that should be easy to recognize. Here, for example, is a recent story that mistakes a bumble bee for a honey bee, and here is one that does the opposite. Even the New York Times has stepped in this equivocation.
Both honey bees and bumble bees are among the most abundant flower-visiting insects in the northern hemisphere. How do we tell the difference? I’ve made a chart: