The Asian hornet arrived in France in 2004 and is now common across large areas of Europe. It is believed the species will not be able to survive in the north of the UK due to colder winters, but is proving to be highly adaptable.
In 2018 there were 9 sightings in England and 4 nests were destroyed. It is not known if all nests were destroyed or if any new queens emerged from the nests that were destroyed.
It is known that the new ‘foundress’ queens can travel up to 200 kms in search of new territory. They can also be transported accidentally by boat, car, camper van or lorry. So, in other words, they can, and will, appear anywhere – – – not just on the south coast.
Beekeepers will most probably be the first to sight them, but some of the sightings in 2018 were from the general public. It is essential that we are all aware of the appearance and life cycle of the Asian Hornet; and to keep vigilant.
Early in the year it might be possible to see evidence of last years nests high up in trees before they are hidden by new leafs.
From mid February onwards, (depending on temperature), primary nests will probably be started in woodsheds, barns and hedges – – – quite low down. As the year progresses hornet workers will be evident on flowers searching for nectar – – – and later in apiaries predating on honey bees. Secondary nests are usually sited high up in trees.
See The National Bee Unit for updates.
Further guidance on the Asian hornet can be found at Beebase where you will find very useful images which are available for identification purposes and downloading.
Traps and trapping
Spring traps (dry monitoring traps). It is important to monitor these on a daily basis and to release native species. Culling native species gives advantage to the spread of the Asian Hornet.
Autumn traps ( drowning, liquid traps). These trapped insects will be workers and drones at the end of there life cycle and about to die anyway. If queens are caught they will reduce the number of colonies started in the following Spring).
It is very important and useful to understand the life cycle of hornets and wasps at this point.
You can also find very useful instructions for how to make a monitoring trap here on YouTube
Any suspected Asian hornet sightings should be reported to:
- The NBU (National Bee Unit).
- The NNSS (Non Native Species Secretariat).
- Your seasonal/Regional Beekeeper details of which can be found on this page of the National Bee Unit website.
- Your AHAT team or coordinator; click here for details of the SBKA AHAT. Note. The purpose of having an AHAT is to facilitate/verify identification and location of sightings so that the appropriate authorities can be notifies asap.
- Report it directly to he NNSS via their dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
When emailing, please include your name, the location of the sighting and if possible, a photograph of the hornet. Please do not put yourself in any danger of getting stung when trying to take a photo.
If there is the possibility of capture, the hornet should be frozen to cull, so as to facilitate DNA testing later.
Please note that it is an offence to release an Asian Hornet unless you are authorised to do so.
The Asian Hornet App for mobiles
This app is essential for GPS location of sightings and for very good information about the Asian hornet and images enabling accurate identification.