Asian Hornets: threat to honey bees

Asian hornet (Vespa velutina)

This week the National Bee Unit issued a notice to beekeepers of a confirmed finding of an Asian hornet north of the Mendip Hills in Somerset. As with the first sighting in Gloucestershire, work to find, destroy and remove any nests is already underway, and includes:

  • Setting up a three mile surveillance zone around the location of the initial sighting.
  • Opening a local control centre to coordinate the response.
  • Deploying bee inspectors across the area who will use infrared cameras and traps to locate any nests.
  • Readying nest disposal experts who will use pesticides to kill the hornets and destroy any nests.

Bee inspectors in Somerset will be supported by nest disposal experts who will use an approved pesticide to destroy any hornets and remove any nests.

The first Asian hornet confirmed in the UK was discovered in the Tetbury area. A nest in the area has since been found, treated with pesticide and destroyed. No further live Asian hornets have been sighted in the area since the nest was removed.

Husbandry Advice

It is very important that beekeepers remain vigilant and monitor their apiaries and surrounding forage for any Asian hornet activity. At this time of the year, Asian hornets can be seen foraging on the ivy for nectar and preying on other foraging insects for protein.

Traps should also be hung out and closely monitored. When using bait, please refrain from using light beer or lager mixed with sugar as this does not work. In France a dark beer, mixed with 25ml of strawberry syrup and 25ml of orange liqueur has proven to work well.

Additionally, a protein bait of mashed fish e.g. prawns or trout, diluted to 25% has also proven effective. Anyone wishing to make their own traps may find the following factsheet useful: How to make a homemade Asian hornet monitoring trap.

Further guidance on identifying the Asian hornet can be found on the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat website.

Any suspected Asian hornet sightings should be reported to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk.

If you are not sure, please still send in a sample for ID or report any sightings. 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.