Bumblebee Jasper is a soft (Mohs hardness of 5) and porous sedimentary rock that is bright yellow-orange, gray, and black. Although Bumblebee jasper appears to be manipulated or man-made, specimens with their brilliant colors are natural, enhanced only through cutting and polishing. Bumblebee jasper is known locally as batu badar belerang. This roughly translates to “coal becoming sulfur.” It was named Bumblebee jasper by an American rock and mineral enthusiast who found the stone while working in Indonesia during the 1990s.
Bumblebee Jasper is not a true jasper, nor is it a single mineral. Many colorful stones used for decorative purposes are given trade names. Jasper is always a popular option because it is a mineral term with which most people are familiar. Jasper is associated with quartz (silica), and there is no quartz in Bumblebee stone. This rock is instead a rare limestone, primarily composed of radially grown fibrous calcite and volcanic ash. Its white-gray color is calcite, while the black layers are pyrite (manganese oxide). Some people mistakenly report that the yellow-orange color is sulfur. While the rock does contain traces of sulfur, the yellow-orange color has been lab-verified to be realgar. The same report confirms a minuscule quantity of arsenic. Bumblebee Jasper is safe to wear but should be kept away from small children who may want to put it in their mouth. Any potential danger comes from inhaling its dust or microscopic fibers. Lapidary cutting and polishing this material must be done with extreme caution and appropriate breathing protection must be used.
The only known deposits are found near Mount Papandayan, an active subduction-zone stratovolcano in West Java, Indonesia. The reported source location initially confused geologists because it is extremely rare to find limestone close to a volcano. This rock, which formed during the upper Cenozoic era, is difficult to find. The deposits are hidden in the jungle and primarily mined using basic hand tools. At least one of the mines can only be reached by hiking to the area on foot. Bumblebee jasper forms around fumaroles, which are cracks in the Earth where volcanic steam and gas escape without any accompanying liquids or solids. During the rainy season in Indonesia, fumaroles turn into boiling mud pools. Due to its popularity, huge amounts of Bumblebee jasper have been mined, leaving very little fine-grade material left to find.
Metaphysical experts suggest that Bumblebee jasper has an encouraging and empowering energy that helps.