Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A threat to our honey bees!

This week, our bee-keeper Sergio made us aware of a new threat to the bees. Vespa velutina, sometimes known as the 'Asian hornet' is an invasive non-native species from Asia. It has recently arrived in France where it is spreading rapidly. As a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, it can cause significant losses to bee colonies, other native species and potentially ecosystems.
The Asian Hornet

Asian hornets were seen in the UK in 2016. A single specimen was trapped in Somerset and a nest was destroyed near Tetbury in Gloucesestershire. The hornet makes very large nest, usually high in trees and man made structures, sometimes closer to the ground.

Asian Hornet Nest
The Asian Hornet is most likely to be found in southern parts of England (it may be able to cross the channel from France) or in goods among which it could be accidentally imported (such as soil with imported pot plants, cut flowers, fruit and timber). It is active between April and November (peak August/September). It is most likely to be found near to bee hives!

Asian Hornet, 'hawking' for honey bee prey
What to look out for

Vespa velutina queens are up to 3 cm in length; workers up to 25 mm (slightly smaller than the native European hornet Vespa crabro)
Entirely dark brown or black velvety body, bordered with a fine yellow band
Only one band on the abdomen: 4th abdominal segment almost entirely yellow/orange
Legs brown with yellow ends
Head black with an orange-yellow face
Vespa velutina is a day flying species which, unlike the European hornet, ceases activity at dusk

If you think you have seen an Asian Hornet

Take a picture and email it with details of where you saw it and your contact details and email it to Do not under any circumstances disturb or provoke an active hornets nest - the hornet stings! You can find out more about the Asian Hornet here.

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