Devon Beekeepers need your help as they prepare for action against the Asian Hornet

Devon Beekeepers’ Asian Hornet Action Teams (AHATs) are responding once again to help stem the incursion threat from the Asian hornet which has been sweeping through Europe since 2004 and most recently the Channel Islands.

Devon branches will be joining with similar AHAT teams throughout the UK for another National Asian Hornet Watch Week running from 7th-13th September 2020.

AHATs are encouraging members of the public to be on the alert for Asian hornets until the end of October. Ivy which will be coming into flower over the next few weeks, or fallen fruit makes for an excellent place to look out for them either in your garden or elsewhere.

Members of the public can download the free Asian Hornet Watch App on their smartphone to assist with identification and quick and easy submission of any reports.

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) is native to Asia. It is believed that it was accidentally imported into Southern France from China around 2004 and has spread rapidly through France and into neighbouring countries.

Gerry Stuart, Torbay AHAT member, says: “This is a threat to all pollinators not just honey bees. They are slightly smaller than our native European hornet and it is 25-30mm head to tail, it has an orange face and a dark abdomen with the 4 th segment yellow. Its thorax is entirely dark brown or black and velvety, and the insect has bright yellow tips to its legs. Unlike our native European hornet (Vespa crabro), it doesn’t fly at night. Thwarting its establishment here in the UK is crucial to protect our pollinators, UK flora, fruit and other insect pollinated crop production. The public should be aware that whilst the Asian hornets are not ordinarily aggressive, they are advised that they should not under any circumstances approach a nest. If they are disturbed, they will actively defend their nests.”

Colin Lodge, a member of Torbay beekeepers and the founder of the first AHAT team in the UK explains: “Generally nests are found high in trees but they are now starting to be found low down in garden shrubs, undergrowth, and roadside banks. Bee Inspectors found one in a shrub outside a dining room window of a house. Blundering into such nests in these sorts of places without protection has led to a number of fatalities on the continent from adverse reactions to
the insects venom from multiple stings. For this reason, and that Asian Hornet could decimate our local native pollinator populations, we are asking everyone, to learn how to identify this non-native species from the other flying insects we usually see at this time of year.”

Simon O’Sullivan, Chairman of Devon AHAT says: “We continue to strive towards a ‘co-ordinated partnership approach’ with our Bee Inspectors from the National Bee Unit to assistwith this incursion. We need the public to be aware of what this insect looks like, and to understand the potential damage that this insect can cause to all of our native pollinators not just honey bees but butterflies, bumble bees, hoverflies and other essential pollinators.”

 The Asian Hornet Watch week will run from the 7th-13th September 2020 and AHAT members are asking the public to be attentive and to report any sightings.

See it, Snap it, Send it

If you believe you have seen an Asian hornet, please contact the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology - Non-Native Species Alert.

Remember no action will be taken unless there is photographic or physical evidence.

For more information

If possible, take a photo or video and send it with any collected specimens to the NNSS.