Watching for Asian hornets

My notes from our final talk – by Phil and Karen Green – at our Cornwall Beekeepers Association/West Cornwall Beekeepers Association ‘Bit of a Do’ conference this September.

Phil is the Asian hornet co-ordinator for the WCBA (this means he co-ordinates efforts to keep the hornets out, not to encourage them in). Phil and Karen had some photos of nests from their visits to Jersey, where the hornets have taken hold – 61 nests were found there this year.

Look out for ‘yellow socks’ – the hornets are nicknamed ‘the yellow-legged hornets’.

Asian hornet

Asian hornet

Usually the nests are high up in a tree, but they have also been found low down in hedges. Between 300-500 new queens can be generated in one year by just one nest.

Asian hornet nest - Jersey

Asian hornet nest – Jersey

The hornets are very docile unless you disturb their nest. If you do disturb a nest, their sting is 6mm long. However, their stings are meant to be no greater risk to humans than bees, wasps, European hornets etc. The ladder by the hedge in the photo below marks where a nest was discovered, alongside a bowling green.

Asian hornet nest location in hedge - Jersey

Asian hornet nest’s location in hedge – Jersey

Bait stations

In the UK we can all keep an eye out for hornets by putting out a bait station and watching it. This can simply be stones or pebbles in a dish containing jam, beer, or a product called ‘Trap it’. If it’s attracting wasps, you’ve probably got it right. Don’t put a bait station near your hives.

If you are lucky (?!) enough to catch an Asian hornet, either swat it or capture it. Then the hornet can be sent to the National Bee Unit for ID’ing – but freeze first! The NBU don’t need a lot of the hornet to ID it – so don’t worry if it’s a bit flat.

What we can do

Phil and Karen had a request for the audience – that we all reach out to two groups or organisations in our local community and give them some info on the hornets. You could direct them to wcbka.org.uk/asian-hornet-action-team or print out one of the posters available from the National Bee Unit’s Beebase Asian hornet page. Below is a photo of a poster WBCA have produced.

Asian hornet poster

Asian hornet poster

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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4 Responses to Watching for Asian hornets

  1. Brian Skeys says:

    Interesting to read this Emily, Phil and Karen were my neighbours here in Worcestershire before they moved to sunnier climes.

    Like

    • Emily Scott says:

      Don’t get too jealous – it’s both sunnier and rainier here! Phil had an unusual presentation technique – he had hidden a rock in the lecture theatre and told us we could win some money if we found it (nobody did so he kept the money). He said afterwards this demonstrated people’s different psychology – some put a lot of effort into finding it, most people a little and some none at all).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so sorry they have taken hold in Jersey. We have been less bothered this autumn. Kourosh trapped a lot of queens in the spring but I can hardly think this is the reason. I wait for the queen pheromone to be commercialised to see if will make any difference trapping the males in autumn. It is supposedly en route. Amelia

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