A WIDOW who lost a beloved gold ring, given to her by her husband, when she was attacked by a bee has been reunited with it – thanks to a treasure hunter in a full beekeeping suit.

Metal detectorist Andrew Coombs spent four hours surrounded by more than 80,000 swarming insects hunting for the missing jewellery.

The 56-year-old, who runs a metal detecting club, received an email from distressed Diane Oliver asking for help after she lost the ring near three beehives in the grounds of her workplace.

Diane, a housekeeper at Upham Farm near Southampton, told Mr Coombs that the ring – given to her by her late husband – had flown off as she tried to swat away a bee caught in her hair.

Mr Coombs had to to don a full beekeeping suit to protect himself as he searched for the ring.

Mr Coombs, from Portsmouth said: “I spent hours going up and down in the area that the ring was supposed to be while bees were flying in and out of their hives, and found nothing.

“I spoke to Diane who told me she waved her hand and felt the ring go down her top, and then she had run away in a totally different direction from where I had been searching.

“I tried again in the area that she told me it might be, flattening the long grass and 18-inch high thistles and within 20 minutes I had a good signal.

“I parted the long grass and saw this gold ring. I picked it up with delight and gave a great yell at the top of my voice. I was overcome with emotion.

“I took the ring to Diane who looked at me with disbelief, as it was of very great sentimental value to her. She had lost her husband a few years earlier and it had meant a lot to her.”

Mr Coombs, an IT administrator, did not ask for payment for his time, so was surprised to find a gift bag containing a bottle of chilled champagne and a thank-you note from Diane, on his car bonnet.

“I am still buzzing that I have made someone very happy, and that is a great feeling. That’s one of the reasons why I love the metal detecting hobby,” he said.

Mr Coombs, who has been deaf since the age of four, uses a metal detector that vibrates when it picks up a signal.