Hello. I came across this insect on ragwort in Sandy, Bedfordshire (the local habitat is appropriately sandy although deep inland). At first I took it to be a moth as it was so hairy but looking at the photo later (it didn't hang around for long) I'm sure it must be a bee of some kind. However I can't find anything like like it, especially with the very hairy legs with pale hairs. I'm afraid I didn't get any other views of it, although there are larger versions of this photo on my Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/orangeaurochs/5958605741/sizes/m/in/photostream/. I wonder if it is possibly to identify this. Many thanks, Tom.
I would call that a male Hairy Legged Mining bee, Dasypoda hirtipes, albeit a bit bedraggled. If you think this hairy you should see the back legs of the female - she looks like she is wearing the most fantastic pair of hairy chaps (that's the ‘chaps’ a cowboy wears not a couple of hirsute young men).
Thank you for the quick and helpful response! It certainly looks like it could with a comb. I'm constantly astonished how much variety there is with bees. Not long ago, I thought it was down to the honey bee and a few sorts of bumble bee (I now understand there are hundreds). Mining bees are a whole different ball game. I'll look out a bit more closely in future.