A RARE species of bee, last found in England 50 years ago, has surfaced in Thur-rock.

The tiny dufourea minuta has been seen in West Tilbury.

This has baffled scientists who have been left wondering if the bee has returned because of climate change, or whether it has been undiscovered all this time.

Members of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society are set to descend on the area this summer hoping to find more examples of the bee, or possibly another rare species, the closely related and very slightly longer dufourea halictula.

The dufourea minuta, which is only known by its Latin name, was discovered by the society's president Michael Archer, near West Tilbury village.

A report in the latest edition of the journal, British Wildlife, says he collected a few bees and after examining them in detail at home later, realised one was a male dufourea minuta.

This was the first British record since a female was found at Holt, Dorset, in August, 1956.