SBKA member Lynne Ingram is on the Asian hornet front line in The Channel Islands
Today was forecast to rain all day so we weren’t sure how much hornet tracking we would be able to do.
In the morning I went for a walk with Bob and his dogs so that we could see where hornets were first discovered in Jersey - sipping sap in a hollow in an old tree. The sap was attracting all sorts of insects and some local entomologists had been recording what was there when they spotted an Asian hornet. They told Bob, and he then started to try and track it back to its nest – which turned out to be the first of 11 that year, and the beginnings of the ‘Jersey Method’ of tracking the hornets.
As the rain didn’t materialise we set up a bait station near La Preference to get a back bearing, and soon attracted hornets that were flying back to the area where it was suspected that the nest was. A new volunteer from Gloucestershire was arriving today, and we went to meet her. We then spent some time investigating the nest that Bob had ‘killed’ with CO2. After two doses of CO2, and then going into the freezer, we were sure that they would be dead this time but we were wrong! Asian hornets are very tough, and the nests provide tremendous insulation! Shortly after removal from the freezer, new hornets started emerging from the comb, and most of the larvae were still alive. We watched the newly emerged hornets stimulate the larvae’s mouths to give them sweet food. Bob gave the larvae some mince, and we watched them munching away. Some of the newly emerging hornets had no wings – we weren’t sure if it was because of the freezing or as a result of some genetic abnormality or a type of deformed wing virus.
Later we went to put out a new bait station on a private nature reserve near La Preference - again moving nearer the nest site. There are no laws of trespass in Jersey but we did always try to get permission to be on the land we were working on, and people were generally very friendly and interested in what we were doing. The law of course is different in England.
One of the beekeeper volunteers from Devon was going home today, but we had time to discuss the Asian Hornet Action Teams, and the contents of the kit box that each team will need:-