Asian Hornet Week

From Simon's beekeeping blog. Comments are welcome via email.


On the walk back from the apiary, I realised that I'm a day late in reporting, gentle reader (no, I only have one reader), that it's Asian Hornet Week. This non-native species is bad news not only for bees, but for other pollinators, and the BBKA are keen that everyone keeps an eye out for it, even suggesting that we put aside an hour each day to watch for hornets going for nectar. This is particularly important because not only was there a sighting near Tamworth, about 200km from us, on the second of September, but also one yesterday in Ashford, about 300km. There may have been more by the time you read this. DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency maintain an page of UK sightings which will provide rolling updates on the situation.

There's a push on to stop the Asian hornet establishing itself in the UK, and people are being encouraged to learn what they look like and report sightings. BeeBase has a page on the Asian hornet with details of its biology and useful documents to help identify them — an identification sheet (in English or Welsh), poster (in English or Welsh) and postcard (in English or Welsh). The Asian hornet is now widespread in France and the National Inventory of Natural Heritage of the French National Museum of Natural History have produced an informative factsheet explaining the difference between similar insects.

If you see an Asian hornet, you should report them via email to the Non-native Species Secretariat on alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk, or via apps for iPhone or Android, or by filling out the online report form. Nests should be left well alone.

Beekeepers — with the requisite protective equipment such as a bee suit — who see Asian hornets can assist by attempting to collect a sample with a net, tennis racket or fly swatter. The less intrepid can also try to take a photograph. As well as this, beekeepers are encouraged to set out monitoring traps in their apiaries using the provided instructions and a YouTube video, and then update the National Bee Unit records via BeeBase to record that they've been set. The traps are made out of a two-litre pop bottle, some garden wire, some epoxy-coated floor mesh, some black plastic sheeting, and a bit of cardboard. It sounds like a good weekend project for us all if we can get together in the next few days to do it. It's simpler than one Tegwyn Twmffat's solution — a laser-equipped sentry gun controlled by a neural network.

Otherwise, another splendid sunset providing the backdrop to another visit to top up the empty feeder. The only unusual thing I saw was a cluster of woodlice in the roof. I'll have to check the whole hive for more during this weekend's inspection.

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