WHEN Susan Cobley was hanging out her washing she came face to face with a bizarre bee.
She called husband David, to look at the distinctive black bee - and now their sighting has been confirmed as a first.
For they took a photo of the visitor to the garden at their Thurstonland home and contacted the RSPB bird charity, which put them on to the Natural History Museum in London.
An expert there said the bee was a carpenter bee that normally lives in the Mediterranean and North Africa. This is the furthest north one has ever been spotted.
David said: "After I'd taken the photo I contacted Tim Melling at the RSPB in Denby Dale. He said it was probably a carpenter bee and I should contact the museum."
David, 68, a retired building lecturer at Huddersfield Technical College, then wrote to the museum and sent his photo of the bee.
George Else, curator for the museum's collections management division, wrote back, stating: "The bee is clearly a female Xylocopa and is certainly the most northern we have for this country.
"The world range of this bee includes much of southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa."
Mr Else said there had been sightings of carpenter bees in southern England and he was sure the bees are capable of flying across the English Channel.
David said: "The bee was on our sweet peas and was so noticeable because it was so black. It was about an inch long, yet the wings were a luminescent blue in the sun. It stayed on the sweet pea for around 20 minutes and then flew away.
"It was so unusual. There was a brisk warm wind blowing from the south that day, so I wonder if that had carried it so far north.
"We've always been fascinated in the strange wildlife spotted by Examiner readers and thought this sighting would interest them," he added.