For the past 2 days I have noticed a large bee-type insect that has been feeding from my lavender plant (in East Yorks). It is about 3cm long with black wings, black body except for orange/red tail. I thought it was a red-tailed bumblebee but its thorax is shiny with no hair. Yesterday a smaller, paler bee was climbing on its back for over an hour. I have tried to photograph but my old camera is not very high-tec! Any ideas, please?
Looks like Bombus rupestris, one of the cuckoo bumblebees. These are more robust with darker wings and generally less hair than the bumblebees they usurp. I will ask for a second opinion as there are too many records of this species as you move northwards.
Many thanks for your swift and informative reply. I have googled B. rupestris images and they look identical to the creature I saw. One photo showed a pair mating, which is just like the behaviour I described of a paler, smaller bee on the larger, darker bee's back.