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’.
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.
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.
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.