Skip to content

Asian Hornet week –so what? Why should I care?
The Asian Hornet is a serious pest threatening British Agriculture. If it gets a hold here it is estimated that the cost of eradication will be around £7.5 million. That is just the cost of eradication. The costs to food producers is much more.

OK it is expensive but why does it have to go?
The Asian Hornet eats flying insects - the same insects that pollinate our fruit trees and many of our vegetables. In the absence of these insects we would have no apples, no beans, no blackberries and fewer flowers since there would be no flower seeds.

But I thought it only ate honey bees.
Honey bees provide a useful source of food to the Asian Hornet – like a take-away food shop. All the Asian Hornet has to do is hover outside the hive and wait for a bee to arrive. It grabs it and flies off to eat it.

OK so it eats a bee- does that matter?
Well it would not matter if there was one Asian Hornet and it ate a bee every day – but it is not like that. The Asian Hornet lives in a nest with about 6,000 other Asian Hornets. Research suggests that up to 600 bees will be taken each day. It does not take long for Asian Hornet to destroy a colony. Those they do not eat detect the threat and do not leave the hive leading to starvation.

And then what?
Well once the Asian Hornet has eaten all the bees it will start on other insects which are flying such as butterflies and bumble bees.

But is it a threat to me?
Well apart from the risk of food shortages and a loss of so many species which make our countryside so interesting – there is a risk to us. In France there have been several deaths from Asian Hornet and even in the UK there has been one hospital admission as a result of being stung by an Asian Hornet. The problem is that if you disturb a nest of Asian Hornets they may all come out to get you – all six thousand!

So what can I do?
First you can download the App from your favourite app store. Just search for “Asian Hornet”. Install it and look at the pictures of the Asian Hornet and also the insects which look like the Asian Hornet but are not a problem.
Secondly you can keep your eyes open when you are outside. You are looking for insect that looks a bit like a wasp but is bigger, has yellow socks and just one yellow/orange band on its abdomen.

And if I see one?
Report it immediately using the app, preferably with a photo.

Then what will happen?
The message will get to DEFRA who will notify the Regional Bee Inspector who will alert the local volunteer Asian Hornet Coordinators. They are ready to turn out at any time to check whether it was an Asian Hornet and then help to find the nest.

And when the nest is found?
At that point DEFRA send in the big guns with all the equipment they need to destroy the nest and all of its occupants.

Is there anything else I should know?
Yes the Asian Hornet is a bit bigger than a wasp but not as big as the Asian Giant Hornet which can be up to 40mm long. The Asian Giant Hornet does not have yellow socks and has several yellow bands on its abdomen. It is often shown illustrating articles about the Asian Hornet – and that is wrong.

Anything else?
Yes – do not go near a nest of Asian Hornets. Use the App to call an expert. Even bee keepers in their bee suits do not go near a nest.

Gosh! Where can I find out more?
Asian Hornet coordinator web site
or
British Bee Keepers Association BBKA
or
follow the BBKA on Facebook or on Twitter

The NBU has been unable to carry out any Bee Health Day training, evening Association talks or attend any national events due to COVID restrictions.

To part mitigate this, Fera Science have prepared several You Tube training/educational videos, which are now available via BeeBase and are freely available to beekeepers and Associations.  Initially three of these have been released looking at the following topics:
Asian Hornet Biology
Asian Hornet Genetics
European foulbrood

The presentations can be found on BeeBases pages on
Asian hornet
and
Foulbrood.

The information can also be accessed on BeeBase news page.

Alternatively there is a link at the foot of the Advisory Leaflets, Training Manuals & Factsheets page.

There is also available  a series of on-line evening lectures throughout the rest of the beekeeping season, starting on 9th June. Topics are chosen to fit with the work in the apiary, aiming to be timely and thought-provoking to inspire all those 'thinking beekeepers' out there.

Ken and Dan Basterfield regularly give popular lectures on practical and thought-provoking beekeeping topics. They lecture across the UK and Ireland, from local association meetings to national and international conferences."

The full programme and booking links can be found here.

The forecast for this week is for thundery showers, some of which could be torrential.  If there was thunder in the air would you want someone to take the roof of your house! I guess not and bees are the same. They can become very aggressive if you try to open the hive in thundery weather. Don't.

Look Out!

When you next go out to check your bees you may find:

  • Flying insects as big as mice
  • Your bees have all been decapitated and eaten by Asian Hornets
  • You are at risk of being killed by a single sting from an Asian Hornet.

And you thought we had enough problems with the current lock down. Fortunately the threats suggested above are not real because they are Asian Hornet Myths. They are what we see in the papers. Fake news is not restricted to 5G masts and politics.

A new page I have added today is an attempt to start to set the record straight by debunking Asian Hornet myths that are floating about out there.

A lot of the myths are spread on social media. If you are a user of any of these can I ask that you search for Asian Hornet on your favourite social media sites and if you see the Giant Asian Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) labelled as Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) then ask for it to be removed as being false and add your own comment to say what it really is.

We need the help of the public to keep on top of the Asian Hornet but they will not be able to do that if they are looking for the Giant Asian Hornet.

This page was originally posted on the Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers website but I felt it to be sufficiently important that I have put a copy here as well.

24th March 2020
Well, who could see that coming - we are in lockdown.
There have been a lot of communications from the BBKA over the last couple of weeks and thus I have created a special page for Covid-19 updates.  Please read it so that you are up to date with what the BBKA are suggesting and what they are doing.

16th February 2020
Been a busy time preparing for the possible arrival of the Asian Hornet. Last week there was an excellent conference at Stoneleigh organised by the BBKA. I was fortunate enough to attend and my report can be found here. Though I have done a lot of reading about the Asian Hornet there was still a lot to learn and I have put as much as I can remember in my report.