This stunning photograph of a hairy-footed flower bee making itself at home inside a brass keyhole has won amateur photographer Tony Cooper top prize in a national competition.
Mr Cooper, pictured, a geologist from Long Clawson, near Melton, captured the image last April after noticing the bee camped in the lock of his back door. The image scooped the Best Photograph Award in the Great British Insect Photography Competition 2012, run by the Royal Entomological Society as part of last year's National Insect Week.
"I was on my way out to the garden when I found this bee in the keyhole of the back door," said Mr Cooper, 61, who, along with wife Barbara is a keen member of Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. "We put quite a few photographs on the trust website and I thought it would make a great picture."
Mr Cooper, who was also commended by judges for a picture of sawfly larvae on a birch tree leaf, took the photograph using a Nikon D200 digital camera and a Tamron manual macro lens. "I saw the competition and thought I'd enter the picture," he said. "Not only does the brass of the keyhole match the colouring of the bee, but I thought it would be unusual – capturing a bee in a human environment."
Mr Cooper's picture saw off competition from more than 400 other entries, earning him a prize of £500 worth of Olympus camera equipment. "I take pictures for the pleasure but I am honoured to have taken a picture that professionals in the field deem to be a good one," he said.
To see more of his pictures visit: