I am puzzled by this bee. I live in Hackney, and we regularly see four species of bumble bee. These are Bombus terrestris, Bombus hypnorum, Bombus lapidarius and ... another one. I hoped you might be able to help me find out what it is. I can't see a likely match on this web site or the Bumblebee Conservation site. It is all black, with a white tail. On some individuals you get the impression there is a very faint yellow-ish band below the wings (which is slightly visible in the picture with the blue flowers), but on most there is nothing to interrupt the black.
They appear to be gathering pollen, since they go from flower to flower, and they are small and pretty common (not as common as the B.terrestris, but more common than the B.lapidarius). I am new to the bee world, so this may be something very obvious. If so, my apologies, but any help would be hugely appreciated.
I have attached three photos below, all taken on my phone. Two are at one location, and one is at another.
It's a Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum. Check the BWARS website for details and images:
"A unique colour pattern (brown/black/white) makes this bumblebee distinctive. The brown hairs of the thorax may be intermixed with black hairs, and the colour appears darker when this happens. Sometimes, the black hairs predominate and the thorax appears black to the naked eye.
Occasionally, the bee could be confused with faded B. pascuorum, but the snow-white tail of B. hypnorum is always obvious."
Thanks Florin, that's really interesting. So, we only have three kinds of bee (just one of them is in two forms), not four. I'll have to look out for further species to get the total back up.