SBKA member Lynne Ingram reports from the front line fighting Asian hornets in Jersey:
Day 1 – Meeting Asian Hornets & Nest 29
Arrived in Jersey last night to be met by Judy – holding a picture of an Asian Hornet of course. Met some of the hornet hunter team during the evening – including two beekeepers from Devon who were learning and helping out. The exchange of ideas, information and plans for today went on until late.
Started the day at The Bee Field – Jersey Beekeepers’ Association Apiary – where we were engaged in trying to kill the occupants of an entire hornets nest contained in a dustbin. The nest had been cut out of a tree, so that it could be dissected and its stage of development analysed. We were using carbon dioxide so that the nest can be dissected later without people having contact with the insecticides normally used to kill hornets. Although it initially seemed to have been successful, the ‘dead’ hornets soon revived, and the dustbin lid was swiftly replaced!
Plan B was discussed, but we had to leave the bee field to head up to the Bonne Nuit area where a beekeeper had reported many large hornets in his apiary. Traps and open bait stations had been out for days, narrowing down the search area.
Arriving on site, we saw around 12 hornets at a time landing and feeding on a stack of old frames. This was my first sight of Asian hornets and they really cannot be mistaken for anything else! Appearing large and black in flight with a distinctive buzz, once they have landed you can see their distinctive markings and can easily collect them in pots for marking or tagging.
Peter Kennedy and Jess Knapp from Exeter University were already at the site and had tagged some hornets. Once the hornets had recovered in a flight cage from being tagged, and armed with a radio telemetry aerial, Peter released the first hornet. Unfortunately she struggled to fly with the weight of the tag, and got soaked in the wet grass, so we collected her and put her back in the flight cage to recover. We then released the second hornet, and followed the signals from her transmitter through fields and woodland until she led us to the nest (Number 28) – which was spotted by Jess high in a sycamore tree. We celebrated our success with a cup of tea provided by the delighted householder.
Meanwhile another householder near Grouville had spotted hornets going in and out of his garage roof, and this nest, (Number 29) was confirmed later in the day by other team members. Pest control will now be called in to destroy both of these nests.