White-tailed Bumble-bee (Bombus lucorum)
The White-tailed Bumble-bee, or Bombus lucorum, is also commonly known as the Garden Bumble-bee. It is very common throughout the spring and summer visiting a wide variety of flowers for nectar. This catholic taste means that garden flowers are as popular as wild flowers.
This time of year thistles are coming in to bloom and quite often it is a case of find a thistle, find a bumble-bee. They are particularly keen on Musk Thistle where you can often find three or four to a flower head.
Bumble-bees, especially ones with white tails, are very difficult to distinguish but this, I believe, is a female of this species due to the band markings on the thorax and abdomen. These bands are the usual way to separate bumble-bee species but it does not always work!
These bumble-bees are vital to the pollination of plants and are essential to the future of human food supplies and need to be encouraged and helped to thrive. They are also just lovely in their own right, useful or not!