Published: 13:00, 12 May 2014
A bee that hasn't been seen in the UK for more than 60 years has been discovered by a wildlife photographer in Kent.
The female Andrena vaga - also known as the mining bee - was captured by Roger Tidman, 66, when he visited Dungeness.
It is understood that this is the first sighting of the insect in the county since 1946 after it was declared extinct by experts.
Mr Tidman - who was drawn to the bee because of its colour - had no idea of its rarity until he showed the photo to his friend and bee expert, Nick Owens.
He told the MailOnline: "I had no idea it was so rare, but it turns out it has not been since in the UK since 1946.
"It was very exciting when he told me how rare the bee is and when I realised I could be the only person with a clear picture of it, I was thrilled" - Roger Tidman
"I'm not a bee expert, but my close friend Nick Owens is, and when I showed him the picture he said: 'You've hit the jackpot, mate!'
"He explained that this bee was declared extinct in the UK 68 years ago and that he couldn't believe it was back in England."
Mr Tidman's picture shows a female bee gathering pollen, before burying it underground.
He added: "It was very exciting when he told me how rare the bee is and when I realised I could be the only person with a clear picture of it, I was thrilled."
The Andrena vaga is distinctive due to its grey hair and is more commonly found in France.
Owen Leyshon, site manager at the Dungeness National Nature Reserve, said: “The grey haired mining bee (Andrena vaga) appears to have been recorded in Hampshire and at Dungeness this spring, which is exciting news.
“Being so close to the continent and with the right wind directions and weather, Dungeness is a prime locality for rare insects to be found which has been proven over the decades.
“With the rich shingle habitat across the landscape and with many initiatives on going to bolster the invertebrate populations, it is all very encouraging.
"Mining bees like a hot sandy, bare shingle environment to make their chambers in the ground during the spring months.”
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