Sep 13

Asian Hornets – message from WBKA

Asian Hornet (AH) – What we can do to assist most effectively?

You will have heard that there have recently been Asian Hornet sightings and a  nest found near in Fowey in Cornwall. Another single adult was found near Liskeard (approximately 10 miles away), a drone which, hopefully, will turn out to be from the original nest in Fowey. Another in Hull, may be a single adult which has come in in a vehicle and may not indicate another nest based incursion. It is also worthy of note that this is Asian Hornet Week but I’m sure that this is only coincidence!

I have spoken to our Regional Bee Inspector, Frank Gellatly, to seek his advice, in particular about whether we should set up Asian Hornet Action Teams (AHAT) in Wales. Some indications are (not from Frank) that they are sometimes more hindrance than help but the most effective areas at detecting Asian Hornets are where the beekeepers themselves and their Associations have been made aware of what they are looking for,  the difference between the European and Asian hornets and who regularly monitor their apiaries and local forage looking for “hawking” hornets. This can be supplemented by traps, type is not of particular importance, live traps where possible, but the by-catch at this time of year is likely to be mainly wasps who would probably not survive the winter anyway. Basic research indicates that the by-catch is minimal and not a threat to other species.

The other areas to monitor and, where AH presence in some cases has first been noted are where there are late flowering species such as ivy or buddleia and possibly himalayan balsam. In these areas Asian Hornets may be hawking not just for nectar but also to predate on the other species of insect attracted by the nectar.

The Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) receive reports of many hundreds of “sightings” most of which are not actually Asian Hornets but European Hornets or Queen wasps. If you have concerns that you have Asian Hornets in your Apiary/area then it is important that you are able to provide a body or a photograph. It is also important that you do not kill every hornet that you see as the APHA teams will need to be able to catch/follow live insects back to their nest.  Radio location is also being trialled to help with nest location.

If you do  believe you have an AH problem then it is imperative that you contact the NNSS as quickly as possible. This can be done by uploading and using the iPhone and Android app “Asian Hornet Watch” on your mobile phone or by emailing alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk.

I appreciate that this guidance is short but it is intended only as an alert for beekeepers. Further information can be found on Beebase or on the Non-native Species Secretariat website. There is also an excellent fact sheet on the AH and information on other species with which it might be confused on the BBKA website. I also attach a photograph of live Asian hornets feeding on protein bait in Fowey.