British bees under threat from Turkish insect invader

The bee - thought to be the osmia avosetta variety - has now disappeared Image copyright Amelia Toy
Image caption The bee - thought to be the osmia avosetta variety - has now disappeared

British bees could be under threat after a family from Bristol accidentally brought a non-native specimen home from holiday in Turkey.

It survived the nearly 2,000 mile trip in the family's luggage before making unusual cocoons on their conservatory sofa.

The bee - thought to be the osmia avosetta variety - has now disappeared.

Government scientists said they would attempt to "collect the bee for formal identification and destruction".

Amelia Toy, from Kingswood, said she noticed a cocoon on her sofa made of flower petals.

"I just Googled 'petal nest' and it came up straight away," she said.

"I did a bit of research and found it was only found in Turkey or Iran. That's when I found out it's not really meant to be here."

Image copyright Amelia Toy
Image caption One of four cocoons made of flower petals found on the conservatory sofa

She believes the bee came home with her parents who had been on holiday in Dalaman, Turkey, earlier in the month.

But before scientists from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) could catch the bee, and confirm its identity, it disappeared.

The bee is not dangerous to humans but can carry viruses which, according to Michael Hunt from the Gloucestershire Beekeepers Association, could "destroy local bees".

"It's a genie in the pot. Once it's out there's no control over it," he added.

'Remain vigilant'

A spokesman from APHA said it was "taking prompt action to collect any cocoons from the house which will be then assessed by experts".

"We remain vigilant, working closely with the National Bee Unit and their nationwide network of bee inspectors to monitor the situation."

He added tourists should remain vigilant when packing and returning to the UK to prevent non-native species entering the country.

"If you do spot an insect on your return to the UK you should report it with the dates and places you went on holiday, and ideally a photo of the insect."

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