Asian Hornet

European Hornet on Left v Asian Hornet on Right

Asian hornet in the UK: Update and Request for Heightened Vigilance.

Asian hornet identified in Lancashire

An Asian hornet has been found in Lancashire and surveillance activity is underway.

Asian hornet
An example of an Asian hornet

The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in the Bury area of Lancashire. It was spotted by a member of the public in a cauliflower, which has since been traced back to Boston, Lincolnshire.

The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee. However, they do pose a risk to honey bees and work is already underway to identify any nests, which includes setting up a surveillance zone and traps in the two identified locations and deploying bee inspectors to visit local beekeepers.

This is the first confirmed sighting since last year, when a nest was discovered in Woolacombe in North Devon. That Asian hornet incursion was successfully contained by bee inspectors who promptly tracked down and destroyed the nest.

Nicola Spence, Defra Deputy Director for Plant and Bee Health, said:

While the Asian Hornet poses no greater risk to human health than a bee, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies. That’s why we are taking swift and robust action to locate and investigate any nests in the Bury and Boston areas following this confirmed sighting.

Following the successful containment of the Asian hornet incursion in North Devon last year, we have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.We remain vigilant across the country, working closely with the National Bee Unit and their nationwide network of bee inspectors.

Bee inspectors from APHA National Bee Unit will be carrying out surveillance and monitoring in a 1-2 km radius around the initial sighting. Additional monitoring and surveillance will be carried out in the Boston area where the cauliflower was grown.

If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet you can report this using the iPhone and Android app ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ or by emailing alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk. Identification guides and more information are available.

 

Around April, surviving V. velutina queens begin a small primary nest, often in a sheltered location such as in the eaves of a roof or in a garden shed. Here they raise the first clutch of workers who take over the queen’s foraging duties. At this stage the nest grows quickly, and the hornets often move to establish a secondary nest where there is more space to expand.

These nests can become very large, and are often located high up in the tree canopy, close to a food source such as apiaries.

From late September to October, the mature nest produces males and then virgin queens which mate and disperse. However, the beginning of this stage of nest reproduction can vary, depending on climatic conditions. A single mature nest produces on average 11 foundress queens after taking into account overwintering mortality of the potentially hundreds of queens that first disperse in autumn.

A consortium of scientists from the NBU and the Universities of Warwick and Newcastle have used data on the spread of the Asian hornet in France to develop a mathematical model that can estimate the hornet spread in the UK. The highly mobile nature of the hornet means that the range of possible additional nest locations in 2016, estimated using the model, covers a wide area.

Asian hornets can be trapped by using either commercial traps to prevent populations expanding. Asian Hornet Identification sheet.

Should you find a suspect Asian hornet or nest, please contact the Non Native Species Secretariat immediately using their alert email address: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk giving as much information as possible. Please include details such as your name, the location where the hornet was found and if possible an image of the specimen. Even if you are unsure of whether it is an Asian hornet, send it in any way – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Alternatively please use the online form.