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Bees and the Asian Hornet threat

Hello everyone,

 I have joined this forum with a cause in mind. I keep bees and live in Torbay where I am on the committee of Torbay Bee keepers Association.  I am also working with  a Devon group of bee keepers who are forming teams of like minded apiarists who are going to be the first line of defense in Devon against the invasion of Asian Hornet that could come to the UK any time next year

 I guess there are a great many bee keepers that read threads on this forum but has the topic of Asian Hornet been raised? I ask because  although bee keepers will know of the danger we face,  there is a real threat to our honey bees and other pollinators if the Asian Hornet (AH) gets established in the UK. It could wipe out honey bees and then you would get no more of that lovely sticky sweet stuff to have on your cakes and breakfast. Crops, especially fruit of all kinds could fail because of lack of pollination, and its not a nice beast to be stung by. 

It is thought that the last outbreak in the summer of 2017 in Woolacombe, Devon, could have been from a queen hornet brought into the UK from France or Spain in a camping unit Like a Caravan, motorhome or trailer tent.

I am a motorhome owner and last January we went for a two month trip to the Algarve.  On our journey down through France we saw two or three Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina V.v) nests high in trees. We knew what they were but since it was winter we knew they were effectively dead because the colony dies out when the new queens fly off to find hibernation quarters.  But we never dreamed that we could provide a lift to such an unwanted and devastating pest.  

 But these types of vehicle are not the only possible vectors which could bring this insect to the UK and it is thought they could come to this country in consignments of goods brought to this country on lorries and vans.

Asian Hornets  devastate honey bee colonies by hawking round the entrance of the hive and taking bees on the wing.  They bite the head and abdomen off and fly away to their nest with the thorax where they feed the larvae with the protein from the muscles that  control the bee's wings and legs But honey bees are not the only prey. Bumble bees and many other insect species which gardeners value for their pollinating and control behavior are also attacked.  Many of our hover flies, which do great good in the garden are at risk. 

We want to raise awareness of the problem through  contacts  with peoplein all sorts of sphere  and gardeners are just one such group. We would like you to look out for the insect and act appropriately if you see one.     You need to look out for a big brownish wasp like insect flyng around in your garden and if, like Monty, you keep a hive  so that you have pollinators for your fruit and veg, you should  keep a special watch for the hornet hawking your bees and taking them out of the air as the season progresses. 

If you do spot anything that could possibly be an Asian Hornet there are a number of things you can do if you are willing. You could try taking photos or video of the hawking baviour if they ere around your hive or you could attempt to catch one with a child's fishing net (they fly relatively slowly and are quite easy to net) transfer it to a jar, and put a lid on it.   Be careful as their sting is powerful.  You can kill the specimen byut crushing it in the net but keep the remains.  If you have one in a jar put it in the freezer to humanely dispatch it. Once you have specimen send it to the correct authority

There is an app for mobiles which shows what you are looking for and enables you to report an occurr

Last edited: 01 December 2017 17:02:05



  • Here is what you are looking for           image

  • Right now to try and get the TV team and Monty to do a piece for the new spring seriesimage

  • DaisydotDaisydot Dartmoor Posts: 21

    Hi there,

    Thank you for this information.

    Is this a threat to all gardens ' pollinators or just honey bees? I mean, are gardens in areas with no hives still at risk? Having seen a few of the documentaries on them over the years their aggression is very troubling - we're not that far from Torbay, as the bee flies!


  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,878

    my fear is that every largish, stripy flying thing will be labeled Asian Hornet and killed.

    Several hoverflies, eg Volucella zonaria, have had the wrong ID and come to a sticky end. Education not panic spreading, is required

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,288
    nutcutlet says:

    my fear is that every largish, stripy flying thing will be labeled Asian Hornet and killed.

    Several hoverflies, eg Volucella zonaria, have had the wrong ID and come to a sticky end. Education not panic spreading, is required

    See original post

    I agree Nut ... European hornets are an important  part of our ecology ... it would be tragic if they were destroyed along with the Asian hornets. 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • DaisydotDaisydot Dartmoor Posts: 21

    I completely agree - education is definitely the way and also promoting spending time observing the behaviour of the wildlife. For instance, hover flies are as mesmerising as any of the flying pollinators and absolutely don't hang around beehives trying to kill the inhabitants. 

    But I guess it's easier to have a knee jerk reaction than listen to common sense! ?

  • Two questions to answer.......first if there are no bees in and area where AH decides to colonise the all other insect poulations are at more risk. The hornet require high quakity protesins to feed its larvae and these it gets from any larger insects .   Bumble bees, hover flies damsel flies and dragon flies, though probably Dragons could defend themselves because of their physicsl size, in fact any insect species that is of a size that will make it an attractive meal, is subject to the predations of Asian Hornets.   

    European hornets take these species too but not in the numbers that Vespa velutina can take.  And if V.v is allowed to become established it more than doubles the pressure on the prey species.

    The second question is will every large yellowish striped wasp like species be targeted in the disire to prevent Asian Hornet establishing itself here.   Well that is one reason why we in the Devon initiative want to get as much  many people accurately informed about what an Asian Hornet looks like as we can.   If we could get a campaign as effective as the Colordo Beetle campaign was back in the   late1900s the I think we would have acheived something worthwhile .

    Fortuneately  the Asian Hornet species we are talkng about is only really wasp or hornet like in its shape and buzz. its coulr is predominatley brown/black with one yellow band on its abdomen (hind part) which inour familiar wasps and European Hornet are distinctly yellow and black banded like a rugby jersey. The other distinguishing and recognisable feature of the Asian Hornet is it yellow lower legs.

    Soif it looks like a wasp or a very large wasp its either a wasp or a beneficial European Hornet.   If it looks like a black or brown wasp its probably an Asian Hornet,

    The best thing for anybody reading this is to go to

    and download their very good ID sheet and Alert poster, and even better would be if you could print off some copies and put them up in places where you think they may do the most good.   I have a copy of the Alert Poster laminated and in my car, where I out it in the window closest to the kerb when I am out and about.   Filing that ta look at my public profile on this site and you will see a photo of a Vespa velutina or Asian Hornet.

    I haven't found out how to post picture here yet. Maybe someone knows how to do thatand could get some Vespa velutina pictures on the thread,

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,288


    Asian hornet

    Last edited: 10 December 2017 17:08:38

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,288


    and more identification tips here 

    Last edited: 10 December 2017 17:13:05

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • LoanaLoana Posts: 427

    My best friend keeps bees and she goes to great lengths to grow lovely plants for them and provide a lovely habitat. Her honey is wonderful. We spoke just the other day and she was exasperated.....wasps were attacking her bees, they were waithing and trying to guard the hide entrances and killing her bees. She stood guard herself for a while trying to drive them away and got stung a couple of times by the wasps. In the end she secured something on the hide entrance to make it smaller so the wasps could not get in ?

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