On Saturday 9 September the Central Division of Somerset Beekeepers held an information pitch at Wells Market in Somerset. The idea behind this was to get the message to the public and ask for their help in locating and reporting Asian hornets (AH) by using the AH Watch app. This Saturday was also chosen to coincide with AH week.
Over the course of the day we spoke to over 500 people, many of whom had heard about the AH issue but very few knew what they could do to help...until now.
With most of the mainland UK sightings having been made by members of the public I felt, as Chair of Central Division, that it was no good me sitting on my backside moaning about the apparent lack of information that is getting through to the public but better to get out there and do something about it...so did. At the time of booking and organising this event there hadn't been coverage on the BBC, this also helped peoples awareness on the day.
The Non Native Species Secretariat provided me with a number of exceedingly good quality handouts and we also used some that were printed by Somerset BKA last year. The public, once they realised we weren't looking for sponsorship or anything were mostly accepting and some had heard of the issue and promised to download the app. Many also had pictures on their 'phones of European hornets which are abundant this year.
In the 60s every Post office in the UK had posters up about Colorado Beetles...why haven't they now got posters about AH, with information about the app. We need as many eyes on the ground as possible and a national campaign needs to be up and running or we will be too late and in a few years time beekeepers, those who still have hives, may well be trying to find ways to live with the AH.
Nick Potts, Chair Central Somerset Beekeepers