Beekeepers seek public help to fight Asian hornet

The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) is calling on the public to help fight the invasive threat to honey bees and other pollinators. 

Asian hornet

Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) numbers are rising rapidly since its initial arrival in the UK in 2016. More have been detected in the UK this year than in the previous six years combined. Reports from Europe and Jersey indicate that 2023 is proving to be an exceptional year for Asian hornets with record numbers of queens and nests. The BBKA keep a tally for the public on their instagram account as to number of sightings and nests found.

The invasive hornet is a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, which can cause significant losses to bee colonies and potentially other native species. Just one Asian hornet eats 30 – 50 honey bees a day and their habit of hawking (hovering) outside the hive stops the bees from collecting nectar and pollen to feed themselves. A report by Elsevier estimated that the cost of the Asian hornet invasion in France at €30.8 million annually due to bee colony mortality.

Asian hornets are slightly smaller than native European hornets, have a distinctive black/dark brown thorax; brown abdominal segments with the fourth segment almost entirely yellow-orange, brown legs with yellow ends, a black head and an orange-yellow face. Full identification details on the BBKA website.

Suspected sightings should be reported immediately using either the phone app ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ or the online reporting form.