Somerset beekeepers are calling on the public to protect honey bees and other pollinators during Asian hornet week which runs from September 6-10.
Lynne Ingram, co-ordinator of Somerset’s Asian hornet action teams, said if these Asian yellow-legged Asian hornets get a hold in the county they could decimate native insects.
“Research suggests that the South West is an area where Asian hornets are likely to occur,” said Lynne. “Even though there were no sightings here last year, possibly because of lockdown, we still need to be vigilant.”
Asian hornets are widespread in France and other European countries and have been accidentally brought into the UK in vehicles.
In the coming weeks beekeepers will be checking their apiaries and monitoring traps for Asian hornets.
The county’s Asian hornet action teams are standing by to respond to sightings in the first instance and to support the National Bee Unit’s team of inspectors who track down and destroy nests.
The awareness week is backed by TV presenter and British Beekeepers Association patron Jimmy Doherty: “Asian hornets really do pose a threat to our native pollinator insects and if you were to come across a nest it could cause you a bit of a danger, too.
“This time of year, as the leaves begin to drop, their nests are easier to spot. If you’re unsure what to look for there is an app to download for your smartphone called Asian Hornet Watch. Take a picture of whatever you spot and send it to us via the app.”
Asian hornets are about twice the size of a honeybee, have an orange face and a dark abdomen with an orangey- yellow fourth segment. Its thorax is entirely dark brown or black and velvety, and the insect has bright yellow tips to its legs.
Take a photo of any sightings and report immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the Asian hornet watch app. For advice, help with identifying a hornet or getting a photo, contact email@example.com. Photos, posters and even a colouring sheet to help identify the Asian hornet can be found on the Somerset Beekeepers’ website: https://www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk/resources.html
Photo: Asian hornet hawking a hive. Photo credit: Crown copyright