UK: Government condemns fugitive migrant Turkish bee to death

The move by Defra has sparked an international row with Turkey.

Saturday 03 August - For a solitary creature who prefers not to travel, accidentally ending up 2,000 miles from home was probably bad enough without provoking an international row. 

That, however, has become the plight of the fugitive Turkish bee condemned to death by the UK Government.

A major Istanbul newspaper yesterday called for the insect’s life to be spared, after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ordered its destruction.

'Don’t kill the Turkish bee', ran a headline in Hurriyet, a popular daily, while a well-known Turkish literary figure also criticised the policy.

It came as the head of Turkey’s beekeepers union accused foreign tourists of removing wildlife.

Believed to be of the rare Osmia avosetta species, the bee captured public attention after taking up residence in and around the conservatory of a Bristol family recently returned from holiday.

Ashley and Louise Toy believe it snuck into one of their cases during their stay in Dalaman.

Despite the bee appearing to be happy spending its time constructing colourful sacks out of flower petals, Defra said the animal should be killed to protect native British species.

It has now disappeared.

Operatives from Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) attended the house on Wednesday night to collect the sacks, just as the scientist who originally discovered the species begged officials to preserve them. 

The Turkish media has picked up on the buzz around the Turkish bee. Hürriyet daily today reports on the Telegraph story with the headline, 'Don’t kill the Turkish bee’.

Buket Uzuner, a Turkish novelist and environmental campaigner, also voiced her concern, tweeting satirically about the decision to exterminate a Turk entering Britain 'without a visa and passport'.

The British Beekeepers Association has warned that the foreign bee could endanger already imperiled British species by spreading viruses or even multiplying and eventually out-competing them.


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