Bombus sylvarum – The Shrill Carder
The Shrill Carder (sometimes Knapweed Carder) Bombus sylvarum is one of our least common bumblebee species. In the UK it is more or less confined to the Thames marshes of southeast Essex and North Kent.
The queen emits a shrill buzz, hence the name. The key ID features are the black band acoss the thorax and two black bands across the abdomen, its very hair rear legs (used to collect pollen) and its orangey tail tip. It is this latter feature which has me confused as the pictures below show everything they should except the orange tail. These bees are quite different to the Common Carders in my garden, even very worn ones. Moreover, they present as ‘white’ rather than ‘yellow’ although there is a wide range in colour judging by other pictures I’ve seen. In the flight picture below the hairy hind thigh is very obvious and in another one can see that one is thick with pollen in the right place.
I know that the bees range does include my area, although we are, as the bee flies, several kilometers from the nearest marshy area.
If anyone thinks I have the ID wrong I’d be happy to hear from them.