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Asian Hornet Information

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Hello Beekeepers,

unfortunately the Asian Hornet looks to have already arrived in the UK, although the presently known about Asian Hornet reports have been dealt with by the Non-Native Sectretariat (NNSS) the forces of nature suggest there will be other and probably established colonies that have hither-to been un-noticed and apparent in the spring.

The best option Beekeepers have is to “Be Prepared” as all scouts know, and understand what they look like, who to inform and how to protect your apiary from any infestations of unwelcome Asian Hornets.

All sightings should be reported IMMEDIATELY to the Non-Native Species Secretariat either via e-mail with a photograph if possible to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk or they can be posted via their online form HERE

It would also be good practice to report this to your local BBKA Branch and area Association as soon as possible.

It is recommended that all beekeepers register with the National bee unit Beebase scheme to stay informed.

You may also like to join a new forum for the latest news on Hornet sightings in the UK HERE ; lets hope it stays quite though!

>>You could always download the latest Mobile Phone Application for Android or Apple devices! <<

This informational mobile application has been produced By FERA and the BRC to record possible Asian Hornet sightings has been developed, more details HERE

It is both compatible with Android and Apple devices, and it is strongly suggested you download and have this available to help provide information to members of the public or beekeepers alike.

Search your app store for “Asian Hornet Watch” Apple, Android .

– WebBee

Safety issues around Asian Hornets

It has been reported that Asian Hornets are more aggressive than their native UK counterparts, as such if in proximity to a colony of Asian hornets the best form of defense is not to approach the colony. Asian Hornets emit a powerful pheromone that attracts other Asian Hornets to attack the same site as the initial sting; so very rapidly a single sting could become a problem if more Asian Hornets are in the vicinity. This is the major Issue in respect to children and pets in the area.

Please be aware a Bee-suit is not considered suitable protection for dealing with the over active attentions of a colony of Asian Hornets!

The best course of action if stung by an Asian Hornet is to try and disguise the sting pheromone with a smoker (if available) and withdraw from the area and deal with the sting and affected area by washing.

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The Schmidt Pain Index shows the Strength of a Giant Asian Hornet and other Hornets to be slightly stronger than that of a Honeybee; however please remember that Hornet venom is made from different compounds than Honeybee venom and may affect people differently than bee stings. For an explanation of insect Venoms’ see HERE

The best defense for the Beekeeper is the eradication of this unwanted Invasive species!

What is an Asian Hornet?

In the UK there is luckily a co-ordinated approach between the British BeeKeeping Association and the Non-Native Species Secretariat; other international organisations and groups are also involved in tracking the Hornets progress.

The NNSS, Beebase and BBKA websites carry updated information about the Asian Hornet, these will hopefully be maintained, click on the links above for the websites Asian Hornet information pages.

The basic description of the Asian Hornet:-

  • 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

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NOTE:-

There is another large Hornet in Asia called Vespa Mandarina sometimes called the “Japanese Hornet” or the “Giant Asian Hornet“; this is NOT presently a threat to the UK and should not be confused with the smaller Vespa Velutina the “Asian Hornet” when searching on the internet. This much larger Hornet is NOT presently reported in Europe and there are many misleading articles so be aware. Vespa Mandarina prefers to nest underground and is much larger. – WebBee

How likely is it to arrive and spread in the UK?

There is an NNSS Risk assessment especially for the Asian Hornet HERE, this gives the official view on the risk of the spread of the Asian Hornet in Europe, it does not give safety advice.

What is NOT an Asian Hornet?

Our existing Vespa Crabro is NO THREAT to Honey bees and is usually very passive, it is unknown how it will interact with Vespa Velutina. It can be easily identified as slightly bigger and more distinctive than the Asian Hornet.

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Another difference is that our native Hornet Vespa Crabro has a distinctive nest and prefers to nest in old buildings and inside trees and other structures, the distinctive “Bike” nest is a wondrous construction. They do not “Hawk” or hunt honey bees.

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Asian Hornets appear to usually nest in trees and large Shrubs off the ground, the nest is a distinctive round sphere and can be difficult to reach without help and equipment.

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Why is the Asian Hornet a problem?

Asian Hornets are predators and they eat other insects and grubs; Honeybee colonies are an ideal source of protein and are no match for a much larger insect many times their weight and strength. Once discovered a Honey Bee colony can be rapidly wiped out by the Asian Hornets waiting outside the colony and catching the bees leaving or returning to the colony.hawking

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How to recognize an Asian Hornet?

There are many identification sheets available, here are a few; it is suggested you print them out and have them handy in case you have any need of reference.

ID Sheet for Asian Hornet

NSS Hornet ALERT Poster

BWARS – Vespa Velutina information sheet

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Asian hornet  Photo: AFP

Who to tell about your sighting of Asian Hornets?

All sightings should be reported IMMEDIATELY to the Non-Native Species Secretariat either via e-mail with a photograph if possible to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk or they can be posted via their online form HERE

It would also be good practice to report this to your local BBKA Branch and area Association as soon as possible.

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How to protect your colonies from an attack of Asian Hornets

If Asian Hornets find an apiary there are a few things that can be done to reduce the effects.

  1. If possible at an appropriate moment, move the colony to another site; this should break the link between the Asian Hornets and the Honeybee colony, however this may not be practical for many beekeepers.
  2. Keep all entrances closed up and secured to ensure the Asian Hornet does not gain access to the brood box or supers. However this may cause a backlog of bees on the front of the hive and make things easier for the hornets.
  3. Place suitable traps, with attractive bait in the flight-line of the Asian Hornets. Remember when siting traps do not place them ON your hives as this just attracts the predators to your colonies! If possible move the traps slightly away from the colonies when they become attractive to the Asian Hornet.
  4. Consider using different entrance arrangements for your colonies to protect flying bees arriving and departing the hive (Use large mesh to protect the landing board etc)
  5. Use a cut up queen excluder across the entrance of your colony to prevent larger insects gaining access if required, check the varroa mesh is intact under your hive.

How to make a Hornet trap

Beebase has a simple monitoring trap design that can be built with a lemonade bottle HERE

Here is a BBC News news item that shows how to make the Beebase monitoring trap HERE
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Here is a much simpler design to manufacture from Tavistock Beekeepers HERE

There are other trap designs available as well as videos; the important element is the bait used to entice the Hornet into the trap.

Sugary wine and fruit concentrate seems to be preferred in the spring with other baits preferred at the end of the year. An interesting website “The French Garden” with details of the french approach to Hornet baits and traps HERE

Here is some information from the Jersey Beekeepers website

“At the end of hibernation emergent hornets have a raised energy requirement and show a preference for sweet foods. In early spring such food resources are comparatively rare in the environment, so this means that sweet baits are highly attractive for the first captures of Asian hornet queens. French beekeepers often use a mixture of beer and sugar for this purpose. Other effective baits include sweet mixtures of wine, sugar, cassis, and water. You can also by proprietary brands of hornet (wasp) trap bait from many garden centres and DIY stores. At the height of the beekeeping season, when predatory worker hornets are seeking high protein foods, consider adding raw meat or fish to the bait mixture.”

Here is the link to the Guernsey beekeepers website with information on their bait and traps HERE

An interesting Apimondia.com comparison of asian hornet traps that suggests larger funnels are more affective HERE

Telegraph article – The best bait is prawns at the right time of year HERE

There is an interesting article on the effectiveness and components of wasp baits HERE

This is a trap for “Giant Asian Hornets” and NOT the smaller “Asian hornets” but the principle of the trap remains the same and may of use for the Asian Hornet HERE

News of an exciting discovery that could lead to the development of a specific bait for the Asian Hornet from the North American Sarracenia plant. HERE

Commercial products and traps.

The Vita Api-shield Hornet trap and hive entrance HERE

Further information.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency Youtube Channel has videos of their encounters with Asian hornets in France HERE

Destroying an Asian hornets nest 30ft up a tree video HERE

Asian hornets in a bottle trap and Hawking honeyBees HERE

ITV News report on Asian hornets HERE

Articles:-

A French article on the spread of the Asian hornet in France with some good pictures HERE

News that the French have even enrolled chickens to help with the Asian Hornet, and possibly a fly…! HERE

Here are some excellent pictures of an Asian Hornet Queen starting a colony from Chris Luck on his Wildlife in France website HERE

An article Chris Luck posted in 2014 suggesting the threat from Asian Hornets may not be as great as suggested to honeybee populations, lets hope he’s right; article HERE

After-all you don’t want them to set up shop in an empty top-bar hive do we?  HERE

Another interesting article on french Beekeeping experiences with Asian Hornets

Michael Judd, originally from England, keeps ten hives at an elevation of 789 meters (2588 feet) under a small wild-flower-covered mountain near the village of St. Vallier. These higher elevation hives have remained free of the hornets. But he also keeps a couple of small hives in his backyard where the hornets thrive. Here in his backyard is where he has been experimenting with control measures.

You can read about his experiences and solutions HERE

Channel Islands

The Channels Islands are an important indication and the “Front line” of the U.K’s Asian Hornet defences; the Asian Hornet has already arrived in the Islands and is trying to set up colonies on new territory.

Several nests have now been discovered and destroyed, each time providing more information about the Hornets ability to survive in northern climbs; the bad news is they are able to survive on the Islands as more nests appear to be being found, so either more hornets are arriving or they are breeding already on the Islands.

Here is some new information on the nest descovered  on 8 September 2017, in Torteval on the islands, this is the States Press release HERE

Mr Damien Harris described how he found it:-

“As it was too overcast and showery to do anything with my bee hives, I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to go out for a walk and see if I could see any Asian hornets flying around the area of Torteval where insects have been sighted.

I have a lot of bee hives on the island and it is in my interest to prevent the spread of the Asian hornet.

I wandered the lanes with my binoculars looking for anything large that could be hornets and mainly by luck saw a large egg shaped object in a tree and knew at once that this was a hornet nest.

The hornets were out wandering over the surface of the nest and flying in and out.

I’m very relieved to have found it as a beekeeper and will continue looking for nests at other potential sites.”

Our thanks to Damien! – WebBee

Here is a link to the Guernsey Beekeepers information and news page, hopefully the latest news will be HERE

Here is a link to the Guernsey Beekeepers website HERE

The suggested best Bait for Hornet traps is presently suggested:-

“Please check and refresh your traps and add the protein element such as cat meat, prawns, mashed fish etc as an encouragement. Meat, fish etc will probably need to be replaced every few days. Don’t abandon the sweet liquid entirely as the hornet gets its reward from the larvae when it returns with mashed up insects but better still if it continues to get it in your trap.

French cocktail used in traps is Biere Brune, vin blanc, Crème de Cassis or Sirop de cassis in the ratio of 2:1:.02 (500ml:250m:l50ml. Use a Ruby beer but not light ales, bitter or stout. Avoid beers with hops and burnt malt. Biere Brune is a strong sweet malt beer”

I suggest all beekeepers try out the relevant components of the Bait, so they can become acclimatised to the things that the Asian Hornets like!

Individually of course…..omit the cat food I suggest…. but don’t drink from the traps!! – WebBee 😉

Forums:-

There is a new Devon Asian hornet forum that intends to keep upto date with the latest information, why not join and contribute to the conversation? HERE

Research Projects involving the Asian Hornet

The University of Exeter’s Dr Peter Kennedy is trying to develop methods of tracking the Asian Hornet, and their latest update is HERE:-

 

If you have any other information you want to share please get in touch via the contact pages! – WebBee

 

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