Derek and Chris. The bee you mentioned is not actually a bumble bee, I mention this as there are several true bumble bee that do have dark forms, some of which are quite rare in parts of the UK. Perhaps if you see it again you could take some notes on its appearance and flight style or, if possible , some photos, just in case it is a BB.
Hmm, would be nice to see a picture, the red haired hind legs, beware of pollen, and darting hovering flight might help. Strange choice of flower but this season desperation might easily strike! If you become more sure there's a mapping scheme underway here:http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=content/beginners-bees-and-wasps-anthophora-plumipes
Ian, Looked at the web site and yes, this is the guy (gal). It had its long black tongue out when entering the flowers and was absolutely not a carder bee! Didn't have a camera to hand and it hasn't reappeared since.
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