Daily Mail

The stowaway bee that spells danger for British species

- By Izzy Ferris

BRITAIN’S bees are under threat after a family accidental­ly brought a non-native specimen home in their holiday luggage, experts have warned.

When Ashley Toy, 49, spotted an unusual petal cocoon on the conservato­ry sofa, he had no idea that it have been left by a stowaway that had travelled back from his family’s summer break in Turkey.

He threw the nest away but the next morning, his daughter Amelia, 19, spotted an unusual bee outside their home in Bristol. She did some research and learned the type of bee, osmia avosetta, is only found in Turkey and Iran.

The family came back from Dalaman, Turkey, a week ago. The Toys contacted the British Beekeepers Associatio­n which then alerted the environmen­tal authority Defra and the National Bee Unit. An associatio­n spokesman warned the rare bee could have a ‘devastatin­g effect’ on native mason bees, adding: ‘Non-native species like this bee pose several problems and need to be controlled.

‘They may carry viruses that will wipe out native species or they may simply out-compete similar species for food sources.’ Meanwhile, the bee is happily constructi­ng numerous beautiful cocoons in the family’s conservato­ry – 1,800 miles from home.

Ever since finding the Turkish insect, the family have opened the back door every morning and watched in awe as the insect flies in and out with petals from their hydrangea, creating intricate nests. ‘It was bringing in these petals and creating little cocoons or little petals,’ Miss Toy said.

‘Every morning it comes in when we open the door. Then it goes in and out, in and out. I’ve never seen anything like it before.’

The Bumblebee Conservati­on Trust said it was not aware of osmia avosetta ever being seen in the UK before and advised that it could be illegal to release a nonnative species into the wild.

Miss Toy said: ‘I guess if Defra are involved it must be a pretty big deal. They haven’t advised me to capture it yet. It’s there now, flying in and out with the petals. I’m completely baffled.’

The National Bee Unit has contacted the family and is working out what to do next.

 ??  ?? Invader: The bee in Bristol
Invader: The bee in Bristol

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