We found this bee in our garden (Cornwall) on the lavender with other bees (b.terrestris,b.lucorum etc) and could not identify it! Black and white, looks like one striped collar and white tail, with maybe a little white tuft at the base of the thorax.
Having trawled the internet (no bee book at hand), I have looked at and dismissed b.funebris, b.patagianus etc, as none of the black and white ones we found were suitable. Answer? Ask the experts!
Is this a juvenile or an albino, or just a bee that doesn't look how it should?
I hope you know the answer!
I am no expert, but see you have had no reply todate, I am sure you know more than me
Is it possibly Andrena cineraria http://denbourge.free.fr/Insectes_hymenoptera_apocrita_apidae_Andrena_cineraria.htm
Thanks for looking! Unfortunately, I'm not sure it is - Andrena Cineraria seems to have dual thorax stripes and a black tail, whereas our mystery insect has a white tail and what looks like one stripe.
Out of interest, is there a good site to check out for identification? Or do you use a book? Typing 'black and white bee' into Google ain't very helpful!
Thanks again for looking - that's narrowed the list a little.
I think iyou're right, it is a bumble bee - and I think it has long antennae, therefore a male. The stripe on the thorax looks yellowish to me and there seems to be another stripe at the rear of the thorax. I can't see the legs clearly to tell whether it's a cuckoo bumble bee though.
I have used the museums identification guide
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/bombus/key_british_colour.html but it isn't always helpful (and isn't in this case) as it seems not to be general enough. For example, it doesn't allow the colours of Bombus lucorum to be sepcified as the guide only allows 3 colours on the abdomen. There is also a guide to world bumble bees which I tried to access to see if yours was a visitor, but it won't run on my PC which complains about it trying to load an untrusted application. I have tried to report this to the webmaster.
Sorry I have not come back quickly, we have had bad weather here and the internet went down and I was of no help, I do not know of a Bee ID site. The inaccurate method I tried for you was using an old Collins Pocket guide to insects of Britian and Northen Europe it has drawings rather than photos and then tried to find a Genus that seemed appropiate
I find searching the internet with latin names and using images the most successful method of ID as many European sites record better/wider info than the UK but I would say that being an expat