This page aims to provide snippets of information, as they come in, on the location of confirmed sightings and any thoughts/new ideas that may help to reduce the impact of Asian hornets as they are sighted and dealt with.

Just remember:

  • the importance of taking a photograph or trapping a suspect and reporting it to enable confirmation as a matter of priority - send to the Non-Native Species Secretariat
  • if the location of a nest is found, do not attempt to deal with it yourself – contact the National Bee Unit 

Contact links for news, help and support:

National Bee Unit (NBU) - for help with identification 

Non-Native Species Secretariat - with photo to report a suspected sighting; or by email to alertnonnative@ceh.co.uk; or online using Asian Hornet Watch App’ available for iPhone and Android

Asian Hornet Action Teams - on how to set up an Asian hornet action team

DEFRA - for rolling news reports 

National Bee Unit - also for news reports

And make a note of the contact details for your local beekeeping association or group.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What concerns are there about the destruction of nests?

There are two main concerns about the destruction of Asian Hornet nests, these are:

  • That the poisonous substances would harm other wild life eating debris directly or indirectly from the poisoned nests
     
  • That in the commotion of defending a nest, worker hornets would be at large and escape.  These escaped workers could swell the ranks of other nearby nests which could confuse the picture and result in time wasted checking supposed subsequent “new sightings”

What is the new plan?

To prepare the way in terms of cutting away branches for access, leaving ladder in situ etc, and then returning after dark to complete the work to ensure that all defending hornets have returned to the nest. 

However, take a look at these YouTube videos made by Richard Noel in Brittany.  

Richard Noel YouTube Video - Asian Hornets at Home

Richard Noel YouTube Video - Removing Asian Hornet Nests

At the Jersey Cider Festival an Asian Hornet stand with nest and live hornets attracted people from Australia, Germany, France, England, Holland and Ireland standing 6 deep at times.  The main comment made was “they look bigger in real life, the posters and leaflets do them no justice”.  A leaflet depicting an Asian hornet, wasp and honey bee in actual size for realistic comparison would be beneficial.

So, how important is it to destroy nests in the autumn?

As at mid October 2018 the Jersey beekeepers had found/destroyed a total of 52 nests this year. (By 22nd October 2018 this had risen to 56).  This includes trapped founder queens, primary nests (that would have developed into secondary nests) and secondary nests.   Basing this on research figures this has prevented the following numbers:

52 nests would have produced between 10,400 queens (this is based on the lower figure generally accepted of 200 queens produced by each nest)

Considering the high winter mortality of queens and if only 2.5 % survived the winter this would have given Jersey 260 potential nests next year (2019).

260 nests having an average hornet content at high season of 6000 per nest per year would have produced a hornet count over the year of circa a massive 1.5M hornets in 2019.

Each hornet starts life as a grub who only eats protein in the form of pollinators at the generally accepted rate of a minimum of 10 per day each.  It’s not difficult to see the impact this would have over 2019 on the local pollinators.

Three things we can be doing now in preparation

No. 1: Remain Vigilant

In September time Asian hornets were hawking on other insects on the ivy.  As we are out and about keeping ourselves fit at this time of year, this is an opportunity to remain vigilant that may appeal more than sitting staring at hives or bait. 

No. 2: Map out your Local Area

Scrutinise a map of your own area and see what fields/other places of uncertain ownership are in your vicinity. Make/ local enquiries now. If there is an Asian Hornet sighting and the need to start tracking down nests, you will know at once who to ask for permission to walk over their land and place bait stations.

Enquiries can be prioritised: land that is particularly helpful for tracking efforts is anything with an open aspect, preferably a bit elevated, so that as hornets leave your station you can watch them with binoculars and may even see them descend into a specific tree. The further you can observe a flight line, the more accurate your triangulation with two other stations will be. That can cut days off a search. 

No. 3: Advance your Efforts

An A4 Google Earth picture of an area where there has been a hornet sighting can be used for nest tracking, but A3 makes the job easier. 

Enquire who has A3 printers locally, and who would print for you if you emailed them a map.  The trees etc visible on Google Earth make tracking much easier than it would be with a regular OS map.

(Note of caution:  if you use a compass or mobile phone to take the bearing of the flight, don't use your car bonnet as a table for your nice big A3 map - it makes the compass needle point in the wrong direction!  Maybe it is better, with a good map, to accurately plot your position on it, then draw the line of a bearing using landmarks alone. This is open for debate.)

Autumn attractions for food

Autumn flowering camellias

Goat willow Salix caprea – licking at the honeydew and taking wasps that are doing the same.  Would they also take willow aphids which are comparatively large, numerous and would make a tasty snack for a growing larva?  Maybe they would like the same plant in spring?